By Dr. Nicky Gallagher, Technical Services Manager, Syngenta Professional Pest Management
When it comes to termite inspections, nothing beats a well-trained eye and a good flashlight. However, there are tools that can enhance your search for these cryptic pests.
Subterranean termite detection
Subterranean termites quickly succumb to desiccation when exposed to the elements, so they require a constant supply of water to survive. These termites typically acquire water from the soil, but urban environments may also provide sources of moisture, such as leaking pipes.
- Moisture meters: these tools can help guide optimal placement of above-ground bait stations. They can also be useful during follow-up inspections after a termite treatment. Assessing moisture level changes (or lack thereof) pre- and post-treatment can help determine whether or not further investigation is warranted. Good-quality moisture meters can be non-destructive and used on a variety of surfaces.
During home inspections, it has become commonly accepted to interpret an area with a moisture level of 20 percent or greater as an indicator of potential termite activity. Follow-up investigations into walls or other areas with borescopes can help minimize damage.
Drywood termite detection
Drywood termites require very little moisture to survive, so moisture meters may not be as effective for detection. However, some tools can detect their movement within the wood they are damaging.
- Acoustic detectors: termites produce acoustic signals as they tear away wood fibers. Acoustic detectors can monitor a termite’s signature chewing signal, and small wireless options that are left in place can alert termite presence via text message or email.
It is critical to pinpoint a drywood infestation to effectively target a termiticide treatment. Altriset® termiticide is now labeled for control of drywood termites, in addition to eastern subterranean and Formosan termites. In a study, acoustic detectors were used to evaluate an Altriset treatment to drywood termite-infested logs. While only 50 percent of the termite tunnels were treated, Altriset still provided 100 percent control in one month1.
While there are many detection devices on the market, certain devices are sensitive and can lead to false positives. The only way to ensure they are effective is to use them in combination with proper training and experience in termite inspections.
For more information about termite inspection and control, contact your local Syngenta sales representative.
1 Lewis et al. University of California, Berkeley.
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