Termite aggregation is a fancy term to describe how to get a lot of termites together so you can kill them — here’s an explanation for homeowners by Ion Staunton
It’s over 10 years since the mainstream pest management industry decided to supplement their usual physical and chemical barriers with combination treatment stations and monitors that entice termites to aggregate — because, treating large numbers of termites with a chemical agent that is transferrable back to their nest is an almost certainly successful method of killing whole colonies of the subterranean termites which do 99% of the damage to Australian homes and buildings.
Over the last 200 years, barriers have been the main defence. However, whenever you watch a TV news program reporting a termite horror story, the dramatic crunching of timber, the scurrying termites and the tears are the result of termites by-passing a barrier.
So why do aggregation devices make a difference?
New termite colonies begin each and every year. A colonising flight of thousands is an annual event from mature colonies and occurs in early summer. The pairs of termites seek and find wood in contact with moist soil, excavate a small chamber, mate and begin to lay eggs which initially they tend themselves until there are enough workers to take over food harvesting, nest building and maintenance as well as tending the eggs and feeding the young, the soldiers and royalty.
Some nests don’t survive the first dry summer, others succumb to echidnas, lizards, and ants—and some run out of food before they are big and successful enough to build underground tunnels to new food sources. A few do survive and these become a major threat to homes after developing for 3-4 years. During this time the chances are in the high probability range that foraging scouts will find an aggregation device placed near a building for this purpose and that they will be discovered eating away inside it.
Termite monitors set in garden areas around buildings are discovered simply because termites are naturally out looking for new food. These aggregation devices can contain anything cellulose; wood and cardboard are the main choices for enticement. The termites turn up in large numbers for the easy-to-harvest food. Inspections need to be regular so that their presence can be detected before the food in the device is all consumed. The inspection and the adding of the treatment bait has to be performed with a minimum of disturbance so as not to cause the termites to abandon the device.
The pest control service industry devices on offer cost more than DIY products because the technician has to call out to quote, call again to install, again for regular inspections and then again for multiple treatments while the device is under attack.
The treatment chemical has been restricted to professionals until recently when the bait, which is not toxic to humans, pets and wildlife, was registered for use by anyone, without restriction. (See Killing Termites)
If homeowners continually have aggregation monitors in use around the outside of their homes and if they learn to inspect their homes for termites at least once a year, every year, (See Termites Inspections) this combination of simple activities can significantly reduce (if not quite totally eliminate) the ever-present termite threat to our most valuable material asset — home.
Termite aggregation devices have provided more than a decade of success. All you need is to look at them fairly often, treat the termites if you see activity and regularly inspect your house timbers — just in case.
Fully illustrated information is available in a free How-To Guide downloadable from www.termitetrap.com.au