Contributed by: Doug Webb
Updated on: October 25, 2022
Termite bait stations can be used in the treatment of termites -- specifically subterranean termites, the most prevalent species in the U.S. -- which form networks of underground tunnels as they forage for food. Termite infestations can often go undetected, and because these insects eat 24/7, they can pose a formidable threat to your home. Three main species, the subterranean termite, the drywood termite and the Formosan termite, are found in the United States.
If these pests are an issue around your home, termite traps (bait stations) might seem like a good solution. What are they and do they actually work? Read on to find out more.
How do termite bait stations work?
“Termite traps" are bait stations placed in or above the ground around your home. These devices aren't actually called “termite traps," nor do they actually trap termites. These stations contain a bait – often containing wood, paper or cellulose – that the termites feed on and spread throughout the rest of their colony, thereby eliminating the colony. As the worker termites crawl around near the colony in search of food sources, they find the bait and eat it. Most baits are slow acting, allowing the termites to return to the colony and spread the bait to others.
Outdoor termite bait stations: above ground and in-ground
Outdoor termite bait bait stations are typically placed in areas that are heavily trafficked by termites. Underground bait stations are only used for subterranean termites, targeting them where they live.
Do termite bait stations work?
Bait stations can provide an effective, long-term solution for termite issues. While the bait is designed to act slowly, it does allow for the destruction of all castes of termites, including reproductives, soldiers and workers. The workers feed the bait to all other colony members and it disrupts their ability to molt and reproduce so they die as the mechanics of their growth process is disrupted.
However, there are several considerations that can impact their effectiveness. The first is location. Bait stations should be placed about 2–4 feet away from a home's foundation and at intervals of 10–20 feet from one another. Additionally, they should be placed in areas where termite activity is occurring or where it may be suspected. These include near woodpiles, tree stumps and moist areas.
DIY (Store-bought) termite bait stations vs. professional pest control bait monitoring systems
If you see termites or signs of termites in your home it may be tempting to try to get rid of them yourself. However, even if you stop the termites you can see, there are possibly others continuing to damage your home's structure behind the scenes.
While many of the termite bait stations available at your local store are somewhat comparable to the bait used in some bait monitoring systems used by pest control professionals, DIY termite treatments are often ineffective because they are improperly used. Most homeowners are not able to properly identify different species of termites, their behaviors and areas of high termite activity. Professional pest control companies offer not only the right equipment, but also effective solutions, ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the system, and expert knowledge to provide an effective solution to your termite problem.
There are different species of termites that can invade U.S. homes. A trained professional will know which species of termites are present in your area, and how to effectively spot signs of termites and termite activity when inspecting your home. As a result, the professional will know which treatment for termites to use to help get rid of termites.
Benefits of termite bait stations
Bait stations can be installed to protect areas that may otherwise require drilling through slabs or have other limitations. These include areas near foundation drains and areas covered by slabs or flooring that may require drilling.
Some additional benefits of termite bait stations include:
- The ability to test to determine if termites are present and earlier detection
- Better targeted treatment
- Greater degree of safety for children and pets
Understanding termite monitoring and bait stations
Pest management professionals can install monitoring stations in the ground at 10- to – 20-feet intervals around residences (according to manufacturer's instructions) in order to detect and monitor termite populations. This practice follows the principles of integrated pest management, i.e., surveillance-based targeted control.
Placement of the monitoring stations and type of bait is dependent on the surrounding environment (competing food sources) and expected termite species. The monitoring stations should be placed in areas expected to have termite activity (tree stumps near residence, near areas of existing termite damage, along foundation) to maximize detection.
Regular surveillance and monitoring of these stations is important in order to achieve successful results. In areas with heavy termite infestations, area-wide monitoring and treatment (at multiple residences) may be required for long-term control.
Seek professional termite control help
Because of the considerations involved with termite bait stations, you should contact a termite control professional for help. Our Terminix professionals can conduct a thorough inspection of your property before bait stations are installed, increasing the likelihood that they will be placed appropriately, and that any termites present will find the bait in a timely manner.
Related > How to Get Rid of Termites
The termite control professionals at Terminix® are trained to detect the signs of termite activity. They will conduct a free termite inspection of your home and develop a custom plan for termite treatment or protection.