Termite Chemical Information
There have been significant changes to liquid (soil applied) termiticides recently. We will not discuss those that are solvent based and smelly. We exclude these as unacceptable to our clients. This leaves water based and odourless materials. These can be split between REPELLENT and NON -REPELLENT termiticides.
REPELLENT – These are the traditional type, and include the pyrethrum group such as BIFENTHRIN. They are strongly repellant to termites, but virtually odourless to people.
NON-REPELLANT – These are the new generation of termiticides that are not detected by termites, which travel through the treated zone, become contaminated but keep travelling for a while and thereby contaminating many other termites. (Trophollaxis)
‘MAGIC’, NON-REPELLENTS – We see inferences in marketing material that the new generation non-repellent termiticides will, when applied around a building, destroy indirectly a termite colony nest that is located away from the building. The implication is that trophollaxis effect is so strong that it will kill an infesting colony back to the source, and that treatments do not have to form a continuous treatment zone because the termites will die anyway.
Our own experience has not supported this, finding that the offending termite colony nest (typically in a nearby tree) does not die when the infested house is treated with a non-repellant termiticide. Accordingly, we believe that an unbroken continuous treatment zone under / around a building is the only way that a soil treatment should be expected to be effective.
It is a fact, however, that many buildings cannot in practice be treated 100% continuously due to lack of access to parts of the footings. Ie lack of sub-floor access or concrete slabs covering key areas. The result is that our company focuses more on colony control methods (killing the offending colony) than other companies. We generally only use termiticide treatment zones once the offending colony has been killed and the building is termite free. This is normally achieved through colony nest location and direct treatment, or indirectly by a termite baiting program. This is the hallmark of our treatment approach.
Which is Best? (our opinion)
REPELLENTS – Bifenthrin, Longest lasting (10 year label) Best for protecting new and existing buildings.
NON-REPELLENTS – “Altriset”, Highly effective with best trophollaxis effect. Best against highly aggressive infestations. Non- toxic. Not on poisons schedule. Expensive.
Also “Termidor”. Has strong trophollaxis effect and is very effective. It has strong soil bonding properties and can be used where there is moisture movement is the soil. More toxic.
Also “Premis”. Has strong trophollaxis effect and is very effective. It is water soluble, and less enduring in wet soils. On the other hand, it will seep through the soil and has better soil penetrating properties. Less toxic. Absorbed by plants and risk to bees.
“Altriset” by Syngent
Type – NON-REPELLENT Active – Chlorantraniliprole – a muscle rigor inducer. Based on toxin in S. American Ryannia plant.
Toxicity – Not classified on poisons or haz’ goods schedules. Non-Toxic. Group 28 Insecticide.
Odour – Almost odourless.
Longevity – The label gives 5 years. Syngenta advise that this will increase as field trails continue.
Comments – This termiticide is expensive – but on some jobs it is well worth the extra. The material is odourless and safe. Our specialist’s love it- and they go home clean. Once it has been applied to a ‘treated zone’ around / under a building, termites do not detect the material and travel through it, contaminating themselves and others prior to their slow demise. This results in a big kill of termites from exposure of just a few. We think this is the best product against a highly aggressive and heavy infestation. It is a win for our clients and for us. It is not absorbed by plants and is safe for bees.
“Termidor” by BASF
Type – NON- REPELLENT Active – Fipnonil
Toxicity – Rated S6, oral-harmful if swallowed, dermal-may irritate skin, does not readily penetrate skin. Repeated exposure may cause allergic reaction.
Odour -has a slight musty smell.
Longevity – Label gives an 8 year expectation.
Comments – Termidor was launched in 2002 where it is used extensively. It has quickly built up a reputation as “the best” termiticide, because of claims made that it has strong indirect colony control effects. Trials in USA have shown that a treatment around a perimeter of a building (only) can control termites entering the building from within internal points that were never treated.
Our experience with Termidor in Melbourne does not support these claims. It should be used like all the other soil treatments, and the aim should be to form a continuous zone of treated soil. However, there is no doubt that Termidor has a strong trophallaxis effect and that it is a highly effective and powerful termiticide.
The product is expensive but is excellent against heavy infestations. It is probably too expensive to use for simple ‘protection’ jobs where bifenthrin would give greater longevity.
Our only concern is the significant toxicity of this chemical, as is reflected in the label requirement for organic vapour cartridges for our respirators. Since our policy is ‘least toxic if it works’, we prefer to guide our clients towards the non-toxic “Altriset”’ if they have a heavy termite pressure.
“Premis” by Bayer
Type – NON_REPELLENT Active Imidacloprid, a Chloro-Nicotinyl (an insect nerve inhibitor)
Toxicity – Rated S5. “Practically non-toxic” both oral and dermal.
Odour – This water-based insecticide is almost odourless.
Longevity – The label claims “can deter….up to 5 years” in our service area. Our own experience certainly indicates at least 5 years should be expected.
Comments – Bayer advise that Premis has a trophallaxis effect, killing large numbers of termites indirectly following exposure of just a few, and our experience with it has produced excellent result that seem to ensure longer than the label suggests. Since Premis is water soluble, we do not use it where there is water movement through the soil
We are concerned about allegations (especially in France) where this product is said to be absorbed into plants, killing pollinating bees. Premis is therefore not our preferred material where there are flowering plant or vegetables associated with treatment.
“Biflex Aquamax” by F.M.C.
Type – REPELLENT Active Bifenthrin a synthetic pyrethroid water based termiticide
Toxicity – Rated S6, oral – “slightly toxic”, dermal – “practically non-toxic”.
Odour – This water based termiticide is almost odourless.
Longevity – the label claims “at least 10 years” when applied at maximum strength. In practical conditions around a typical home, due to water exposure, disturbance of garden beds etc STC recommends re-treatment each 6 years.
Comments – Bifenthrin binds very quickly and strongly to soil particles. This makes it a good option where moisture movement in the soil may be a factor. On the downside, for the same reason, it tends to be filtered out by the soil so that it will not seep through and penetrate some target areas as well as a product like as Imidacloprid.
What matters to you?
Your decision will probably be based on a trade-off between longevity, toxicity and cost.
In our experience the choices appear reasonably simple and are as follows:-
- Lowest Toxicity, heavy infestation- “Altriset”. (Expensive)
- Very powerful, higher toxicity and strong soil binding- “Termidor”
- Longest Lasting, tried and well proven over many years – “Biflex” (Moderate cost)
Australia has one of the most stringent pest control industry regulatory systems in the world. All the termiticides that are proposed to treat your building have undergone thorough evaluation and approval by national and state government authorities. Our company will use these approved termiticides in accordance with all government regulations.
The following commonsense precautions should be observed both before and after your premises are treated:
- You should advise us of any pets or any personal or family allergies, or other concerns.
- Keep pets confined during treatment, to prevent their escape through an opened door/ gate.
- Avoid contact with treated soil until the termiticide has dried.
- Observe any verbal advice provided by your termite technician at the time of treatment.
- Ensure your premises are properly ventilated after treatment.
The failures of these treatments, which are all too common in the industry, are generally a function of building design and treatment application rather than termiticide effectiveness. For example, if the footings of a building cannot be effectively accessed by the pest controller because of concrete paving or tiling covering the footing, then the termiticide application is likely to be less than continuous and therefore imperfect.
It is important for the building owner and termite specialist to discuss the costs and benefits of, for instance, cutting and removing concrete paving from around a building compared with line-drilling and injecting through the concrete. This will have a greater effect on the outcome than the choice of chemical.