How do termite treatments to the soil protect my home?

January 26, 2016


There are two main termite management systems used to protect buildings from termite attack

1)     Application of termite treatment to the soil around and under buildings

2)     Installation of a termite monitoring and baiting system around the perimeter of buildings

Following on from our previous article when we looked at how baiting systems protect your home from termites, we’ll look at the pros and cons of the soil termite treatment option.

A termite attack on your home can be an emotionally draining and expensive experience, with serious attacks realising damage bills up to $100,000 or more. Once active termites have been eradicated from the building, to prevent further attacks in the future (or prevent an attack in the first place), it is necessary to install a termite management system to protect the building.

How are soil termite treatments applied?

Treating soil around and under buildings with insecticide is the “traditional” way to protect structures from termites. The pest professional will dig a trench around the perimeter of the building to a level of at least 50mm below the top of the foundations.

Digging trench for soil termite treatment

Digging a treatment trench below the foundations

When the soil is replaced, it is mixed with insecticide to create a treated zone around the property. For those buildings with a sub-floor, the soil under the house around all sub-floor structures (perimeter walls and piers) should also be treated.

Liquid Termiticide Barrier application

Liquid insecticide added as soil is replaced in the trench

How do soil termite treatments work?

There are two types of chemicals that can be used in such termite treatments; repellent and non-repellent insecticides. The older style chemicals are repellent chemicals, which as their name suggests repel termites from the treated area. Whilst this sounds like a good idea, if there is a small gap in the treatment (as sometimes can happen due to the nature of the soil structure), termites can sometimes find their way through.

In contrast, the newer non-repellent treatments actually kill termites that come into contact with the treated soil. Termites coming into contact with the treatment also have the potential to pass the chemical on to other termites, magnifying its effect. As termites cannot detect the chemical, they cannot find any potential gaps in the treatment, making it a more robust treatment compared to the older repellent chemicals. As such the newer non-repellent treatments tend to be a little more expensive. In addition, some of these newer non-repellent chemicals have an excellent environmental profile making them a smarter choice for those with pest and children.

It’s important to realise that a treated zone is not a “termite barrier” preventing termites from entering your home. They are designed to work with the structural aspects of your home (foundations, “ant capping”, etc), to prevent termites entering your home without being noticed. That is, to get into your home they need to build a mud tube around the barrier. When they do this, they can be spotted and dealt with. For this reason even with a soil treatment in place, it is important to have annual termite inspections. In fact, any treatment warranties will be reliant on having annual termite inspections as part of the ongoing termite management plan.

Clearly the success of any soil termite treatment is dependent on ensuring an even application of chemical around and under the property. If there are concrete paths or pavers around the property, it is possible to drill through concrete and pavers and inject the product into the ground. However, there is no way of knowing how even the chemical has been distributed in the soil and we believe it can give a false sense of security. If we cannot be confident of installing a complete, even soil treatment, we will always discuss other treatment options such as baiting.

Although soil termite treatments can be an excellent option in many situations, sometimes building construction, soil type and the gradient of the block means a chemical treatment cannot be applied successfully and other options should be considered. Always be careful of pest control companies who only push one treatment option.

How long to soil termite treatments last?

Soil termite treatments are designed to last a number of years. Although some products claim eight or even ten years “protection”, we always advise re-application after 5 years. Although in most cases the chemical can last longer than five years, potential soil movement and root growth over a 5 year period can create gaps in the treated zone. Even with a 5 year re-application rate, in most cases a soil treatment is the most cost effective termite management system.

Furthermore, a reticulation system can also be installed when the soil is treated. The reticulation is a series of flexible pipes laid in the ground around the property. These can be filled with insecticide when the soil needs to be re-treated. This makes future treatments quick and easy, without having to dig up soil and paths, resulting a very cost effective long-term option.

Termite reticulation system installation

Termite Reticulation system installation

Benefits of a termite treatment to the soil?

With the chemical in place, the system is always acting to prevent concealed termite entry.

Only one property inspection per year is required to maintain warranty.

For most structures where a soil treatment is suitable, it represents the most cost effective termite management system for protecting homes.

New chemicals have a great environmental profile, only targeting termites – a great option for those with pets and children.

Make sure your professional discusses different termite treatment options for your home so you can make an informed decision and choose the best option. If you’re in Melbourne you can always give us a call (Specialist Termite Control – Specialist Pest Manager of the Year 2014, 2015 – 1300 69 59 49)

Receive updates by: