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A Complete Guide to the Basics of Termiticides (Part II)

It is not uncommon for most people to think of "organic" as anything that has nothing to do with chemicals. However, in the real essence of the word, "organic" actually refers to chemical compounds that are composed of one or more of the known organic elements. These elements are oxygen, carbon and hydrogen.

Termiticides or chemicals that control or kill termites are actually organic in nature. These chemicals consist of organic compounds which are synthesized by experts so that they can be easily dispensed and used. Nonetheless, there are other termiticides that are non-organic, being purely made and synthesized in controlled laboratories.

Chemical Formula of Termiticides

For a chemical compound to be purpose-specific, it has to contain a special ingredient that dictates its overall purpose. A termiticide would not be able control and kill termites if it does not have an active ingredient. An active ingredient is highly toxic and alone, its dosage can be very difficult to control. Thus, an active ingredient has to be mixed with other "ingredients" which are less toxic. In most cases, inert elements are used to tone-down the toxicity of the active ingredient used in the termiticide.

The chemical formulation that we see in the labels of termiticide packages are already the mixture of the active ingredient and the inert elements that have been mixed with it. The chemical formula helps the user of the termiticide to use the product effectively and safely. Termiticide formulations can be either in liquid or powder form.

Liquid Termiticides

1. Mixable Concentrates

Termiticides that come in the form of Mixable Concentrates or MC are cloudy in appearance in their raw form. MC's has to be mixed with water before being used. MC's are associated with the common strong "pesticide smell" that we are all familiar of. MC's are manufactured to be oil-based, making the chemical obvious when mixed with water.

MC is very toxic causing immediate withering to some varieties of plants. MC's are to be used without skin-contact because they can be easily absorbed by the skin possibly harming the person using the chemical. MC's are commonly applied to wood construction materials thereby inhibiting termites from even touching it.

2. Water-based Liquids

Similar to MC's, these chemicals are to be mixed with water before they are used. Water Miscible Liquids or WML are very strong toxic chemicals that are very effective in deterring termites from feeding on the wood portions of the building. In essence, MC's and WML's are similar; their only difference is their appearance in raw form. WML's do not appear cloudy unlike MC's. WML's are classified into three categories: (1) water-soluble, (2) soluble concentrates, (3) liquids and (4) solutions.

Powder Termiticides

1. Dust Formulations

Termiticides that come in the form of dusts are amongst the types of chemicals that should be handled with extra care. Like all termiticides, dust formulations consist of a single active ingredient mixed with other dry compounds. The dry compounds should be inert in nature so as to lessen the toxicity of the active ingredient. In almost all instances, dust formulation of termiticides are only advised to be used in places where there is little or no inhabitant activity because the dust can be stirred by different forms of activities mixing it in the air the inhabitants breathe-in.

2. Wettables

In its raw form, wettables are dry, powdery formulations that are finely ground. Under a naked eye, dry formulations and wettable powders look the same, but they are very different when already used as termiticides. Wettables, from the name itself, are to be mixed with water before they can be applied to wood. After mixing with water, wettable powders look like WML's.

Types of Control Using Termiticides

Termites react differently to different classes of termiticides (see my separate article on this topic entitled “An Extensive Guide to the Different Classes of Termiticides”). Moreover, the impact of the termiticide used also varies depending on the method by which the chemicals are used. Normally, termiticides can be applied directly into the soil or on the surface of the wood materials used in the construction of the building. In a new termite control technology, termiticides are used as long-term baits to termites.

To date, two types of control make use of termiticides, these are: (1) Direct Termite Repellents and (2) Indirect Termite Repellents (also known as non-repellents).

1. Direct Termite Repellents

These termiticides are strong enough to kill termites on the spot the moment that they "touch" any material that is treated with the chemical. Properties with severe termite problems are often treated with such type of termiticides because the damage has to be controlled as fast as possible. However, newer researches have revealed that these types of termiticides are not very effective in killing the entire population of the termite colony that infests in the property, especially when the colony is still not found or is difficult to reach.

2. Indirect Termite Repellents

The reason why indirect termite repellents are gaining more favor nowadays is because of its ability to "deceive" termites. Although indirect termite repellents are still deadly to termites, its effects to termites do not appear fast, giving the termites that have ingested it time to go back to the chambers of their colony.

The method makes use of the nature of worker termites. Inside the colony, worker termites also feed the queen, the soldiers and the larvae. They feed the other members of the colony with the food that they have digested themselves. Thus, if these termites have ingested indirect termiticides they will be feeding the others with poison. In the long run, the entire colony will suffer poisoning even while the others have not actually taken the termiticide.

Legal Termiticides

No matter now sugar-coated termiticides are promoted, these chemicals are still poisonous and over the years, some termiticides have actually become infamous because of their harmful effects to humans. However, there are stricter standards already imposed nowadays that aim to prevent the problems caused by termiticides to happen again. All legal and safe termiticides are EPA-approved and tested. The EPA acknowledgement seal is present on all approved termiticide labels.

Michael Rozatoru :)
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