The deceased termite will never dine again

The pest control guys have figured new ways to encourage slumber

April 27, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

The primary strategy for dealing with termites has long been to create a chemical barrier around the house to act as a moat of sorts to keep the hungry little fellows at a distance.

Now, pest control professionals have adopted a couple of new strategies. Rather than merely repel the insects - leaving them to regroup and fight another day - they try to eliminate them.

"Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year," said Michael F. Potter, a professor of urban entomology at the University of Kentucky. "They primarily feed on wood, but they may also damage paper, books, foam board insulation and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. And oftentimes, there will be no sign of the termites themselves."

Potter explained that in most cases termite colonies - which can contain hundreds of thousands of insects in connected subcolonies - are underground, perhaps as much as several hundred feet from where the termites are feeding.

The most common method for dealing with termites, Potter said, involves injecting a chemical in the soil around the house, drilling through concrete where necessary. The substance injected - called a termiticide - provides a chemical barrier around the structure, which repels termites.

Over the past several years, two new methods have emerged.

One involves the use of nonrepellent but lethal chemicals that allow the termites to dig through the treated soil, ingesting the substance and ultimately transporting it on their bodies to other termites.

The other involves the use of buried wood-filled containers to provide foraging termites with a convenient meal. Once termites have entered the station, the wood is replaced with a chemical that ultimately kills the termites that ingest it.

Yet another way to eliminate termites is to put the chemicals only where the insects are.

Arthur Katz, president of Knockout Pest Control in Uniondale, N.Y., said his company uses the Sentricon Termite Colony Elimination System, a procedure that can kill an entire colony using just a few grams of chemicals.

While the cost of the Sentricon system varies depending on the size of the house, Katz said, an average house can be treated for about $1,400.

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