What’s surprising about termite baiting systems is that they are capable of destroying an entire nest, but we did not know exactly how until very recently. To be more specific, we did not know how termites that are affected by the bait behaved and where they died inside the colony. By getting a better understanding of these two factors, we could then better understand bait performance and how to improve it.
In order to find out why baits that contain chitin synthesis inhibitors (CSIs) work so well, researchers began to investigate the molting behavior of termites when they are under normal foraging conditions. This first study has shown that workers will return to the central nest when the molting process begins, where they will shed their skins around reproductives and their eggs. The next question was – do termites that are affected by CSI baits exhibit this behavior as well?
In a follow-up study, the researchers found that this is indeed the case. Poisoned termites would return to the central nest to molt where they would die in massive numbers. This creates a dangerous health hazard for such a sensitive area of the nest, and it forces workers to relocate the queen, king and the brood to another site. What’s interesting is that molting termites, poisoned or not, would follow them as well. In the experiment, the small colonies used by the researchers had all collapsed within 60 days.
This mechanism works so well because termites develop bait or termiticide avoidance behaviors wherever there is a large number of dead workers. However, since the bait contains a slow-acting termiticide that becomes active when the workers molt, the deaths will only occur within existing nesting areas. This means that the termites have no idea where the termiticide is, so they will continue consuming the bait until the colony is completely destroyed.
Further improvements to CSIs are currently under consideration, one of which would be to reduce the time to the next molting for affected termites. This would ensure that a colony is eliminated faster without creating bait-aversion near the spots where the bait systems are installed. A faster elimination of the colony would mean that the termites do less damage to the home and that there would be a lesser need to install both a bait system and a liquid barrier in order to stop an infestation right away. It’s interesting to see how things will develop in the future. Contact us today if you have any question about termite control methods or if you have an infestation and you need the help of a specialist to get rid of it.