Chemicals Used for Termite Control

Termite infestation causes damage to homes, trees and personal effects to the tune of more than a billion dollars a year.

Soil and Wood Termiticides

A termite moundA termite mound
Exterminators deploy chemicals that either bait or repel termites. Pesticide companies use these chemicals, known as termiticides, either in the ground or applied to the wood, although some can be useful in either type of application.

If an exterminator uses bifenthrin, chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, fenvalerate, imidachloprid or permethrin, he can apply these chemicals to either soil or wood. A common type of termite application that targets the soil deploys one of these liquid insecticides in a trench around the foundation wall. If the homeowner applies the chemical treatment only to the wood, the protection typically extends mostly to that surface to which it attaches.

Wood Treatments

Termite specialists utilize boric acid, chlorpyrifos, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, disodium octaborate tetrahydrate, permethrin and tralomethrin for wood-exclusive treatments of termites. Deltamethrin and permethrin are synthetic repellents that are used with wood.

Baits

Termite baiting systems use noviflumuron, sulfuramid, diflubenzuron and hydramethylnon to bait the termites. With these chemicals, the termites carry the bait back to the colony, feed and groom each other, and the entire colony is destroyed. Baits may be combined with liquid treatments; they can also be useful in situations where liquids are impractical or illegal. Sulfuramid was originally used to bait roaches and ants, while diflubenzuron is still used as a pesticide for field crops. The federal government uses noviflumuron to protect the Statue of Liberty and the White House.

Slow-Acting Non-Repellants

Similar to the baiting chemicals, slow-acting non-repellent chemicals do not kill immediately. Instead, the dying termite returns to the colony. Exterminators who prefer this method use the chemicals fipronil, chlorfenapyr or imidacloprid.

Biological Compounds

Some biological agents protect structures naturally. In one method, the exterminator formulates Metarhizium anisopliae as a fungus and sprays it onto the infested area. Professionals who employ either Steinernema carpocapses or Heterorhabitis bactgeriophora make use of a water-dispersible medium. These substances have the advantage of being safer for people and pets.

Do-It-Yourself Bait Products

Because most homeowners do not have the expertise to treat termites, do-it-yourself products tend to rely on baiting methods. Chemicals used in these products include sulfuramid and borate.

About the Author

David Berndt has been writing on health-related topics including diabetes, cancer, and psychology since 1980. He has published in several professional journals and has two psychological tests published by Western Psychological Services. Berndt has a Doctor of Philosophy in clinical psychology from Loyola University of Chicago.