Termite Mitigation in Schools – A Holistic Approach Webinar Report
Thank you for attending the Termite Mitigation in Schools – A Holistic Approach webinar broadcast on June 7, 2016, a part of the School IPM Webinar series hosted by EPA's Center of Expertise for School IPM.
Faith Oi, Ph.D., Director, University of Florida's Pest Management University
Termite Specific Questions
- How do insecticides work on termites – do they ingest it?
That's a really good question. There's a couple ways you can get an insecticide and termites together. One is using a liquid insecticide that the termites orally ingest. Baits are the second thing that we didn't talk about so much in this presentation. A lot of bait systems are still out there - one is Dow AgroScience's Sentricon® System and another is BASF's Advance® Termite Bait System. Both use insect growth regulators. It's still oral and still digestion, but it's going to impact the deposition of the cuticle and that's a different mode of action than termites tunneling through treated soil.
Any information on whether diatomaceous earth works for control of termites?
I can do it in the lab. That tends to come up a lot in terms of green pest control strategies. It's not something that I'd recommend for subterranean termites. There may be some data on its effectiveness for drywood termites, but I wouldn't recommend it for drywood termites at this point either.
What is high moisture level?
When your moisture meter gives you that angry beep at 28-30%, that's a high moisture level.
Does moisture content indicate a drywood termite infestation?
Not so much. Drywood termites can live in wood with 10-15% moisture which is really kind of dry.
What, besides tenting, can you use for drywood termites?
Drywood termites start as a pair. If you inspect on a regular basis and find them very early, you can do wood removal. That's number one. The second thing is sometimes a borate treatment or any targeted treatment into the gallery can be helpful. A lot of pest control companies would recommend it. You have to have a really good inspector because you have to be able to know the location of the termites and their galleries. The third thing you can do is dust. Actually, fipronil and other dusts are quite effective, but dusting is a lost art. You need to have somebody that knows how to dust. The fourth is going to be the fumigation.
Do you recommend that mulch and vegetation be pulled away from a foundation to leave a bare ground barrier, or is there an alternative material (e.g., rocks or grass) that may better reduce moisture-retaining conditions?
We like mulch for a number of reasons around our landscape. Not the least of which is that it prevents splash up onto the exterior walls. So, bare ground is usually not acceptable to landscapers. As a compromise, we like put out a very thin layer of mulch to encourage the natural drying cycle. Desiccation a termite's number one enemy. So, the thin mulch layer is one option if you want to carry-on with a natural mulch.
I used to favor pea-gravel mulches until a study in the early 2000's on pea-gravel, natural mulch, and rubberized material on playgrounds. The study found that cardboard placed under pea-gravel actually had the higher consumption by termites than cardboard under natural mulches. One of the hypotheses is that the termites can basically walk through the gravel to get to the food. While gravel is really good for drainage, you might want to go a different route if you're in a high-pressure termite area.
Do you recommend heat treatment?
Heat treatments are popular in the western US and it's possible, but again you have to identify where the termites are in order to do the heat treatment. Drywood termites can move within their galleries, so that's a caution. Heat can be very effective.
We welcome your participation in our upcoming webinars and ask you to encourage your peers to attend. These presentations are geared specifically to school and school district facility managers, buildings and grounds managers and staff, childcare facility managers, and school IPM practitioners. School nurses, school administrators, health officials, and pest management professionals are welcome to attend.