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Using Termite Baits 

- Baits fool worker termites into poisoning the colony -

Summary: Termite baits are a low toxicity alternative to soil-applied termiticides/insecticides to protect homes from termite damage. Baits can also be used in conjunction with conventional insecticide treatments.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Termite baits

Very effective termite baits are now available to monitor and eliminate subterranean termite colonies. Baits consist of some type of cellulose, which is the part of wood that termites need, that is laced with insecticide or insect growth regulator. Baiting systems (see below) differ in how they present the bait to foraging termites and which insecticide or growth regulator is used but are otherwise similar in design. The advantage of baits over soil treatments is that baiting uses far less insecticide and is much more eco-friendly than conventional soil treatments.

Termite baiting works by essentially fooling worker termites into taking poisoned bait back to the colony. Foraging worker termites find the bait and recruit fellow workers to the new "food source". The colony, and queen, are slowly poisoned when the toxin is brought back and fed to the nest.

termite baits attract worker termites

A subterranean termite worker, or "sub". Workers locate bait and bring it back to the nest where it is fed to nestmates.


Is termite baiting a DIY project?

Baiting for termite control can be time-consuming and many homeowners will conclude that the time and effort involved is more than they want to commit. In this case an experienced pest control company should be hired to set-up your baiting program. On the other hand, DIY termite baiting can be very economical compared to professional, post-construction treatments (see Termite Control Options).

There are a number of termite baiting systems that all work pretty much the same. First, stations are placed either above ground or buried below ground. Initially stations do not contain poison, their only purpose is to establish a foraging pattern. Once termite feeding is established the insecticide-laced bait is placed in the stations.


Popular termite bait systems

Advance (Whitmire Micro Gen) - available as DIY; uses diflubenzuron insect growth regulator

Firstline (FMC) - available as DIY; uses sulfluramid a slow-acting insecticide

Sentricon (Dow) - generally not available as DIY

Subterfuge (BASF) - generally not available as DIY

Do I need to bait for termites?

Baiting is most effective in areas where subterranean termites are the dominant structural insect pest such as regions with a warm tropical or semi-tropical climate. For example, baiting should be a part of your regular termite management if you live in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North & South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, and northern Australia. Baiting may not be of much benefit if you live in an area where subterranean termites are not the dominant structural pest.

Baiting can be a do it yourself (DIY) project as kits and individual components are now available for some bait systems (left), kits can be purchased here (DoMyOwnPestControl). Remember, it takes time and effort to establish the baiting stations and monitor them effectively. Instructions for establishing and monitoring the stations differ somewhat between products but are explained in detail on the package labels. It is important that you follow these instructions carefully.

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Still Have A Question About Termite Baits? ... Ask It Here

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Jack DeAngelis, Ph.D.

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