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How The Exterra and Advance Termite Baiting Systems Work

Your home has subterranean termites. Or you realize there’s a good chance that it will if it’s not properlyprotected. But the only way to stop termites is aninvasive process that requires the application ofhundreds of gallons of toxic spray under and aroundyour home. Right?Not anymore. Imagine all this being replaced by theapplication in a closed and locked station of a termitebait containing less than one ounce of an activeingredient less toxic than table salt. Welcome to thefuture of termite control – termite baiting with Exterra.Until recently, the almost exclusively used method oftermite control was the application of a chemicaltermite barrier. The application of such a barrier toyour home would typically involve spraying largevolumes of toxic and environmentally persistentchemicals around and under its foundation in closeproximity to you and your family. But Exterra radicallychanges all that.And as important as Exterra’s environment friendlyfeatures are, they’re just a big bonus. Exterra’s greatestadvantage compared to chemical barriers is itsability to eliminate the actual source of your termiteproblem - the termite colony itself.Chemical Barriers - A PrimerSubterranean termites live in the ground and arecommonly located under and around buildings. This isquite natural. Also natural is their appetite for wood,which they are designed by nature to consume anddigest. Termites and their insatiable appetite for woodcreate a problem only when they enter buildings insearch of a new food source.Termites Taking Advantage of Gaps in a BarrierTermites The Hidden InvadersThe Termite Management RevolutionTermite barriers handle the termites-looking-for-woodin-the-wrong-place problem by either repelling termitesthat attempt to cross the barrier or by killing termitesthat come in contact with the barrier. To properlyprotect a building, a barrier must be placed under andaround the entire foundation of the building wheretermites will encounter it as they try to enter frombeneath (which they must do since the form of termitesthat eat wood cannot fly). To be totally effective thebarrier must be applied under and around the entirebuilding foundation at a high enough concentration thatevery possible point of potential termite entry into thebuilding is protected. But what happens if the barrier isnot continuous or is not strong enough? Good question.But you might not like the answer.Even the most carefully applied barrier treatments donot always form continuous and uniformly strongbarriers between the building and the termite infestedearth beneath them. This is because of the tediousnature of the application process and the difficulty ofplacing a barrier beneath an existing building. Almostinevitably, gaps or breaks are left in the barrier throughwhich termites, which are always looking for an openingand a new meal, can invade. And variations can occurin the strength of the barrier. For example, forming acontinuous and uniformly strong barrier under a concreteslab floor is rarely if ever possible. This meansthat if a slab floor cracks at a point at which the barrieris too weak or no barrier has been applied, termites canenter the building unimpeded and often undetected untilthey have done large amounts of damage. And termitescan penetrate a crack as narrow as a penny.Gaps can be created in barriers when they are physicallydisturbed, weakened or simply wear out. Forexample, earth treated with a barrier toxicant may bedisturbed or washed away. Even if a barrier is continuousand uniformly strong when applied, the strength ofthe barrier will naturally decrease over time as thetoxicant naturally breaks down. Also, currently availablebarrier treatment products are not as long lastingas older barrier treatment chemicals that are nowbanned. In other words, the really strong, long lastingstuff is gone.In order to spread the barrier under the building foundation,it is often necessary to drill a large number ofbarrier injection holes into the foundation. The barrierapplication process can sometimes even involve theremoval of finished interior surfaces such as flooringand molding. Needless to say, termite barrier toxicantsare toxic to more than just termites. This means thatan incorrectly or carelessly applied barrier treatmentcan affect more than just the termites under yourhome.

More Termite Control Info 

Subterranean termites are social insects that live in colonies that may contain hundreds of thousands of individuals. Termite colony members are dispersed throughout the soil and can extend underground tunnels tens to hundreds of feet to reach feeding sites. Each termite colony contains three forms or castes, which are the workers, soldiers, and reproductives. These castes are physically distinct and perform different tasks in the termite society.

Workers are about 1/8 inch long and are blind, wingless, soft-bodied, creamy white to grayish-white with a round head. Workers are the most numerous individuals in a termite colony, and they are the termite caste that actually eats the wood. These sterile individuals forage for food and water, construct and repair shelter tubes, feed and groom other termites, care for eggs and young, and participate in colony defense.

Soldiers are also wingless and resemble workers except that they have a large, rectangular, yellowish-brown head with large mandibles (jaws). The soldiers’ primary function is colony defense.

Male and female reproductives can be winged (primary) or wingless (neotenic). Each can produce new offspring. Winged primary reproductives are called alates or swarmers. However, they shed their wings soon after flight. Their body color varies by species from black to yellow-brown. The eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, is the most common termite in Ohio and its alates are black and about 0.4 inch long, with pale or grayish, translucent wings. A pair of primary reproductives that heads a colony is called the king and queen. Neotenic reproductives often serve as replacements if something happens to the king and queen. Neotenic reproductives are generally yellow or mottled black and the female’s abdomen may be distended due to developing eggs.

Detection of Termites

It is important for homeowners to recognize the signs of a subterranean termite infestation. Subterranean termites may be detected by the sudden emergence of winged termites (alates or swarmers), or by the presence of mud tubes and wood damage.

Winged Termites

Large numbers of winged termites swarming from wood or the soil often are the first obvious sign of a nearby termite colony. Swarming occurs in mature colonies that typically contain at least several thousand termites. A "swarm" is a group of adult male and female reproductives that leave their colony in an attempt to pair and initiate new colonies.

Alate emergence is stimulated when temperature and moisture conditions are favorable, usually on warm days following rainfall. In Ohio, swarming typically occurs during daytime in the spring (March, April, and May), but swarms can occur indoors during other months. However, swarming occurs during a brief period (typically less than an hour), and alates quickly shed their wings. Winged termites are attracted to light, and their shed wings in window sills, cobwebs, or on other surfaces often may be the only evidence that a swarm occurred indoors. The presence of winged termites or their shed wings inside a home should be a warning of a termite infestation.

Termite swarmers have straight, bead-like antennae; a thick waist; and two pair of long, equal-length wings that break off easily. Winged termites can be differentiated from winged ants, which have elbowed antennae, a constricted waist, and two pair of unequal-length wings (forewings are larger than hind wings) that are not easily detached. Ants also generally are harder-bodied than termites.

Mud Tubes

Other signs of termite presence include mud tubes and mud protruding from cracks between boards and beams. Subterranean termites transport soil and water above ground to construct earthen runways (shelter tubes) that allow them to tunnel across exposed areas to reach wood. Shelter tubes protect them from the drying effects of air and from natural enemies, such as ants. These tubes usually are about 1/4 to 1 inch wide, and termites use them as passageways between the soil and wood. To determine if an infestation is active, shelter tubes should be broken or scraped away and then monitored to determine whether the termites repair them or construct new ones. Houses should be inspected annually for mud tubes.

Wood Damage

Termite damage to the wood’s surface often is not evident because termites excavate galleries within materials as they feed. Wood attacked by subterranean termites generally has a honeycombed appearance because termites feed along the grain on the softer spring growth wood. Their excavations in wood often are packed with soil, and fecal spotting is evident. When inspecting for termites, it is useful to probe wood with a knife or flat blade screwdriver to detect areas that have been hollowed. Severely damaged wood may have a hollow sound when it is tapped. Subterranean termites do not reduce wood to a powdery mass, and they do not create wood particles or pellets, as do many other wood-boring insects.


Preventive practices are a critical aspect of termite management. Prevention of subterranean termite infestation of wooden structures centers upon disrupting their ability to locate moisture, food (wood), and shelter. Avoid moisture accumulation near the foundation, which provides water needed for termite survival. Divert water away from the foundation with properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks. Soil needs to be graded or sloped away from the foundation in order for surface water to drain away from the building.

Cellulose (wood, mulch, paper, etc.) that is in contact with soil provides termites with ready and unobservable access to food. It is very important to eliminate any contact between the wooden parts of the house foundation and the soil. Maintain at least 6 inches between the soil and porch steps, lattice work, door or window frames, etc. Never stack or store firewood, lumber, newspapers, or other wood products against the foundation or within the crawl space. Prevent trellises, vines, etc. from touching the house. Before and during construction, never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the backfill, especially near the building. Be sure to remove wooden or cellotex form boards, grade stakes, etc. used during construction. Remove old tree stumps and roots around and beneath the building. Avoid or minimize use of wood mulch next to the foundation.

Control Measures

Termites feed slowly so there is no need to panic if they are discovered in one’s home. A few weeks or months may be needed to decide on a course of treatment, which typically requires employing a professional pest management firm. Homeowners seldom have the experience, availability of pesticides, and equipment needed to perform the job effectively. Consider getting at least three estimates before signing a contract for control measures, and be cautious of price quotes that are substantially lower or higher than the others. Prices for inspection, treatment estimates, and conditions of warranties often vary considerably. A guarantee is no better than the firm who presents it. It is important to take your time to select a reputable pest management firm. Deal only with licensed, certified pest management firms having an established place of business and a good professional reputation. Ideally the firm will belong to a city, state or national pest management association. It is a good idea to consult the licensing agency in your state to determine a firm’s complaint history. In Ohio, licenses are issued through the Pesticide Regulation Section of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (614-728-6987 or 800-282-1955).

Conventional soil treatments rely on creating a chemical barrier in the soil that is toxic to termites contacting it. Many also have repellent characteristics and termites avoid treated soil. To achieve termite control for long periods of time, such termiticides must be applied as a continuous barrier in the soil next to and under the foundation. If there are untreated gaps in the soil, termites may circumvent the chemical treatment. Hence, such treatments during preconstruction can provide for more uniform coverage. Once a home is constructed, the chemical has to be injected through drill holes and trenching around the foundation, which can result in less accurate coverage. Effective termite control usually requires specialized equipment and often 150 or more gallons of prepared termiticide solution per house, depending on size, basement, etc.

Termiticides that act by creating a chemical barrier in the soil include bifenthrin (Talstar®), cypermethrin (Demon®, Prevail®), and permethrin (Dragnet®, Prelude®). Chlorpyrifos (Dursban®) can be used only during preconstruction and only until December 31, 2005.

In reference to "spot treatments only" using chemical barrier termiticides only in areas of the house where termites are seen, most pest management firms will refuse such treatments or will not guarantee such treatments. The reason is that termites have a very high probability of finding other untreated points of entry into the structure. Localized spot treatments are considered risky except in re-treatment situations.

Treated-Zone Termiticides

The most recent termiticides to be marketed are non-repellent to termites, but show delayed toxicity as termites forage through treated soil, which they do not avoid. As termites penetrate the "treated zone," they contact the active ingredient, which causes delayed mortality and also possibly allows the termites to be overcome by lethal microbes. Furthermore, the toxicant is thought to be passed to nestmates through grooming activities and social food exchange (trophallaxis). Control usually is achieved within 3 months. As with soil barrier termiticides, specialized application equipment and large volumes of chemical solution are needed.

Non-repellent termiticides include fipronil (Termidor®), imidacloprid (Premise®), and chlorfenapyr (Phantom®).


 Termite Baits. Bait technology uses wood or a cellulose matrix favored by termites that is impregnated with a slow-acting toxic chemical. Termite workers feed upon the bait and transfer it by grooming or trophallaxis to other colony members, eventually reducing or eliminating the entire colony. Termites are not site-specific, but rather, they forage among various food sites, which results in the bait being encountered by many colony members. The toxicant necessarily is slow acting because termites tend to avoid sites where sick and dead termites accumulate.

Typically, in-ground stations are inserted in the soil next to the structure and near known or suspected sites of termite activity. In-ground stations often initially contain untreated wood that serves as a monitoring device. The monitoring wood is replaced with the toxicant once termites have been detected feeding on it. In addition, aboveground stations may be installed inside or on the structure in the vicinity of damaged wood and shelter tubes. Aboveground stations initially contain bait.

It is very important that bait systems are properly installed and diligently serviced. Monthly inspections of a baiting system usually are necessary, except during inclement winter weather. Successful termite baiting necessitates proper monitoring and maintenance of the stations.

Baits work much more slowly than soil termiticides, and the homeowner should be aware of the possibility of a lengthy baiting process. Several months or more may elapse before the termites locate stations, then termites must feed on sufficient amounts of the toxicant.

An often-cited advantage of termite baits is that they are "environmentally-friendly" because they use very small quantities of chemical and decrease the potential for environmental contamination. In addition, bait application causes little disruptive noise and disturbance compared to soil treatments. Furthermore, baits can be used in structures with wells or cisterns, sub-slab heating ducts, and other features that may preclude a soil treatment. Baits are often used in sensitive environments.

A number of baits have been marketed to control termites. Bait products that are available for licensed pest management professionals include the Sentricon® Termite Colony Elimination System (hexaflumuron [Recruit® II bait] or noviflumuron [Recruit® III bait]), FirstLine® Termite Defense System (sulfluramid), Exterra® Termite Interception and Baiting System (diflubenzuron [Labyrinth® bait]), Subterfuge® Termite Bait (hydramethylnon), and Outpost® Termite Bait Response (diflubenzuron). Not all of these bait systems are equally effective. It is advisable to review the independent research that has been conducted on a particular bait, as some products have been evaluated much more rigorously than others.

Spectracide Terminate® (sulfluramid) and Termirid® 613 (borate) can be purchased by homeowners. However, Terminate® is not recommended as sole protection against termites, and an active infestation should be treated by a professional. Termirid® can be used to reduce subterranean termite populations. Little or no research has been conducted to verify the effectiveness of these products, particularly when used by homeowners.

Some alternate termite controls include:

Treated Wood

Borates (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate [Tim-bor®, Bora-Care®, Jecta®], Impel®) and pressure-treatments (creosote, chromated copper arsenate [CCA]) protect wood against termites and wood-decay fungi. However, even creosote-treated railroad ties and telephone poles, and CCA-treated wood, over time, can be subject to termite attack. Termites can build mud tubes over treated surfaces. Furthermore, they can gain entry through cut and cracked ends or areas where the chemical has not sufficiently penetrated.

Wood treatments are primarily used to supplement other termite control measures, because termites are able to attack untreated wood in other areas of the structure. It is advisable to use pressure-treated wood in situations where wood is in direct contact with soil or exposed to rainfall. Borates are fairly soluble in water, so borate-treated wood should be protected from constant rewetting.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers are particularly appropriate during the preconstruction phase to provide protection of the structure from subterranean termites. One such physical barrier is stainless-steel wire mesh (TermiMesh®) that is fitted around pipes, posts, or foundations. The newest physical barrier, Impasse® Termite System, contains a liquid termiticide (lambda-cyhalothrin) locked in between two layers of heavy plastic that is installed before the concrete slab is poured. It is supplemented with Impasse® Termite Blocker, which uses special fittings around plumbing and electrical pipes and conduits.

Biological Control Agents

Certain species of parasitic round worms (nematodes) will infest and kill termites and other soil insects. They have been promoted and marketed by a few companies. Although effective in the laboratory, control is often quite variable under field conditions. Limited success with nematode treatments may be attributed to the ability of termites to recognize and wall-off infected individuals, hence limiting the spread of nematodes throughout the colony. Furthermore, soil moisture and soil type appear to limit the nematode’s ability to move in the soil and locate termites.

A fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (Bio-Blast®) is a biological termiticide that requires special application and handling techniques. It is labeled for aboveground application to termite infestations in structures, but it is not labeled for application to the soil. Spray effectiveness is enhanced when applied to many foraging termites because infected termites can pass the fungus to nestmates. However, it is difficult to infect a large enough number of termites for the infection to spread throughout the colony. Furthermore, it provides no long-lasting residual activity, and the fungal spores die with the dead termites. Insufficient research has been conducted to indicate whether this is an effective method for controlling termites.


The Exterra Interception and Baiting Method

Some termite baiting systems disturb termites feeding

in their stations whenever they are inspected or baited.

This is because their station design requires that their

interceptors must be removed and reinserted during

inspections and removed and replaced with bait when

the station is actually baited. With Exterra this is not

the case. Little or no disturbance at any time. Period.

But how?

nate a termite colony. Why is this the case? Because

most types of toxicants are quick acting, meaning they

kill an insect soon after the insect contacts or consumes

it. A quick acting toxicant placed in a termite

bait would cause the immediate death of any termites

that found and started consuming the bait. Other

colony members of the now dead termites arriving at

the bait looking for food would discover their dead nest

mates. These newly arriving termites would quickly

realize that the bait was causing the death of their nest

mates. These termites and all their other nest mates

would then instinctively avoid consuming the bait. This

would mean the bait had killed some termites but had

failed to eliminate the colony. How can this colonyprotective

instinct be successfully defeated?

To date the best strategy developed is to select a

toxicant for use in the bait which acts slowly. If a

toxicant acts slowly enough, termites consuming the

toxicant containing bait are able to leave the Station

before being affected by the toxicant. Optimally, these

termites are able to return to the colony where in

keeping with their colony duties they deliver food back

to other colony members. Food that just happens to be

toxicant-containing bait. If the toxicant in the bait works

slowly enough, the colony is unable to learn to avoid

eating the bait because they can't connect the death of

more and more colony members with the consumption

of the bait. The slow (but not too slow) speed of action

of the termite bait toxicant used with Exterra (plus other

attributes) makes it an optimal termite bait toxicant.

Termites Consuming Labyrinth Termite Bait

Labyrinth Termite Bait

Large animals have bony interior skeletons. But

insects, including termites, have an exterior skeleton,

referred to as an exoskeleton. As they grow, termites

must shed their exoskeleton to form a new replacement

exoskeleton. This exoskeleton replacement process is

called molting. A failure to complete the molting

process is always lethal to termites. This means that a

toxicant that stopped termites from successfully

completing the molting process would be a reliable

termite bait toxicant. The toxicant contained in Labyrinth

Termite Bait, the bait component of Exterra, has

this exact action. But how does it act slowly enough to

eliminate the colony?

After consuming Labyrinth, a termite is killed when it

molts. However, not all of the termites in a colony molt

at the same time. Because some termites in the

colony molt sooner and others molt later, the termites

die at different times. As more and more colony

members that have consumed Labyrinth molt and die,

the number of surviving colony members is whittled

down. Finally when only a few colony members are

left, the colony normally collapses and is eliminated.

Because the whittling down process occurs slowly, it is

almost impossible for the then surviving colony members

to identify and avoid the substance that is causing

the slow, gradual loss of other colony members.

Kills Slowly But Stops Damage Quickly

Labyrinth can take several months or more to completely

eliminate a termite colony. However, it can

drastically reduce the rate of wood consumption of a

colony within six to eight weeks after the colony starts

consuming Labyrinth. This is because while termites

may take several months to molt and die after consuming

Labyrinth, its active ingredient has other (too

complicated to explain here) effects on termites that

begin within a few weeks of when termites first start to

consume it. These effects interrupt a termite's ability to

consume wood. This means the amount of damage a

termite colony is doing to a building it is infesting is

reduced well before it actually eliminates the colony.

High Powered Active Ingredient - Low in Toxicity

The active ingredient used in Labyrinth is very powerful.

So powerful that it needs to be present in Labyrinth

only at a very low concentration. This concentration is

so low that the amount of Labyrinth needed to completely

fill one Exterra Station contains less than one

ounce of toxicant. But the active ingredient is low in

toxicity to humans.

But how can the active ingredient in Labyrinth be so

effective in killing termites yet so low in toxicity to

humans? Because the active ingredient has an action

only against animals that molt and humans do not molt!

As mentioned earlier, the active ingredient in its pure,

concentrated form is less toxic than table salt.

Attractive Ingredients = Superior Results

No matter how well a termite baiting system is designed

or how effective an active ingredient it uses, if termites

won't eat the bait, it won't work. That's why extensive

research was conducted to optimise Labyrinth to the

appetites of termites found in the US. Termites simply

can't resist Labyrinth. Too bad for them but good for

you and your home.

Why Keeping Exterra At Work is Important

Labyrinth can eliminate all the termite colonies under

and around a building. However, after a colony is

eliminated, ground areas that the eliminated colonies

previously occupied may be invaded by new termite

colonies. This is why the interception and baiting

process must be continued at your building even after

the termite colonies active under it now are eliminated.

Reduced Environmental Impact

Termite colony elimination is the most important advantage

of Exterra. However an important added bonus of

using Exterra is the significant reduction in the amount

of toxicant necessary to manage termites at a site

when compared to barrier treatments. Just how large

are these potential reductions? Let's take an example.

Some barrier treatments can involve the application of

more than 10 pounds of actual chemical toxicant mixed

with hundreds of gallons of water around a typical

house. But Exterra replaces all this with a few ounces

of active ingredient. In some situations, using Exterra in

place of a barrier chemical product can result in up to a

10,000 fold reduction in the amount of toxicant needed

to control termites at a site. Real reductions in exposure

of applicators and the environment to termite

control toxicants can be achieved when Exterra is used

in place of a chemical barrier treatment. Good for you,

good for your family and good for the environment.

EXTERRA and LABYRINTH are trademarks of

Ensystex Inc.


You've got termites and you want them gone. Here's how Exterra does it.

Exterra gets to work in-ground...

To the right is a house under attack by subterranean

termites. Termites have been attacking this

house from some time. This is a job for Exterra.

The first step of using Exterra is to install Inground

Stations around the building at points near

where termites are likely to be foraging in the

ground for food. The Stations contain non-toxic

food preferred by termites. This food is called


The Stations are inspected at regular intervals for

evidence that termites have found some of the

Stations and are feeding on the Interceptors.

...and above-ground quickly.

Here we see an installed Above-ground Station

under termite attack. Above-ground Stations are

not always installed however in certain circumstances

they can be very useful. Above-ground

Stations can speed up the process of colony


Above-ground Stations are used only when a point

of termite attack in the building can be located.

Bait is placed in the Station when it is installed.

After the termite colony is eliminated, Aboveground

stations are removed.

Termites have been intercepted...

Foraging termites have found one of the In-ground

Stations and are feeding on the Interceptors.

Notice how the termites have built tunnels in the

earth that now reach the Station. This is their

pathway back to the colony.

The Exterra Station is designed to both speed the

process of termites finding the Station and to

increase the percentage of installed Stations at

which termites are intercepted.

This is made possible because of the arrangement

of the Interceptors in the Station and the high

preference termites have for the wood used to form

the Interceptors. it's time to put Labyrinth to work.

To the right we see the Station after it has been

filled with Labyrinth Termite Bait. The Interceptors

have been omitted in this view but are actually still

in place.

The termites were feeding on the Interceptors but

have now switched to feeding on the Labyrinth

Termite Bait.

The termites made this switch because they prefer

to eat Labyrinth Termite Bait even more than they

prefer to consume the Interceptors. This is because

Labyrinth is designed to be highly preferred

by termites.

Termites can't resist Labyrinth which leads to the

colony's quick demise.

Here we see both Stations have been located by

termites. The Stations have been replenished with

Labyrinth Termite Bait several times.

Labyrinth has severely affected the termite colony.

The best evidence of this is the small number of

termites left feeding. These few remaining termites

have been severely affected and are in no shape to

cause much more damage to the building.

Soon these few termites will be gone as Labyrinth

succeeds in completely eliminating the colony and

stopping further damage to the building.

In the left and right views above, the termites have been eliminated from the building and the earth beneath

it. The Above-ground Station has been removed and will not be replaced. The In-ground Stations in

which termites were previously feeding will now be prepared to intercept any new colonies that may

occupy the area that was once occupied by the now eliminated termite colony.