Termite and Mice Professionals
We've had a couple of inspections regarding termite prevention and a possible mouse problem (living in attic). Our home is in Virginia, and before we sign up for an expensive service, there are some quick questions:
I've heard conflicting info on termites. Although nothing of signficance has been spotted during the inspections (one minor issue), the well-respected pros recommended the Sentricon system. Your thoughts?
The pro also noticed (possibly) mouse feces in the garage, and possible burrow holes in our attic's insulation (we have that loose white insulation). No noises or evidence of mice in the kithcen yet, knock wood. They want to set some traps and poison, too. No pets so no issue here. Is there something else for me to look for? It's a big house so checking outside for holes takes some time. Is ther a chance that they climb up the siding and get in through a hole in the attic fan?
What are your general thoughts about this? I will be seeking additional inspections from other companies, primarily to see if they all spot the same things. Thank you very much.
Your questions are clear and well thought out.
I'll answer your mouse inquiry first. As mice settle in a staging area somewhere close to your home, they will eventually seek to spread to new territory. Since they colonize, they live as a community of sorts, dominated by a male mouse with a number of females, usually at tops 15, plus a few male hopefuls which are suppressed from breeding by the dominant male. At this point additional mice will be pushed out or be killed by those that are more mature and aggressive. So starts the push for new territory, in this case, your home.
Entry points can be the insulated copper refrigeration line that passes through the exterior wall from your air conditioner compressor, space at lowest point behind vinyl siding; particularly at the exterior corners of the house, other foundation openings, and of course, where space allows entry below exterior doors.
Once inside, mice will locate where nesting is inviting, usually as close as possible, and often in attic spaces where insulation provides nesting quality plus safety. Mice reach the attic from within the plumbing wall or other vertical chases used for the building's mechanicals.
A food source is paramount For breeding. Without ample food, mice will not breed to numbers, and can be easily wiped out by baits, traps or glue boards. When effort is made to destroy an existing population, the requirement is total elimination, otherwise the breeding goes on, and that base population remains successful. Food can be as inconspicuous as the food and grease dropped through the top burners of the stove, and left out dog and cat food. In other words, kill 'em all or keep them. Traps may be too labor intensive. It might be easier to amply bait the attic space where these openings (burrows) appear, and around the soil stack drop through the house.
Regarding termites, the SentroCon System is a growth regulator system which requires regular visits by the installer company. First a clear pine stake is installed as an attractant, and then, once termites find the inserted stake within the monitor receptacle, presoaked insect growth regulator (IGR) cardboard insert replaces the pine stake, and the termite workers in the wood are shaken into the monitor receptacle over the IGR. These monitors(inserts) are spaced about every ten feet around the circumference of your home. Where termites strike, the process is repeated. As the IGR inserts are consumed, they are replaced by new ones. The inspections become less frequent as the inserts are no longer in use. The claim is never elimination, but severe reduction. The possibility of colony collapse and then complete elimination is possible. There are so many pros and cons to this form of treatment. Several negatives are that termites may not strike, or if they do, there may be only several strikes which address a single colony but not possible other colonies. Since termites pass food and water from one to another far reaching kill is likely. There is a study being conducted by Bayer MFG that seeks to determine if there is interactivity between separate colonies. Comparative DNA studies are part of the focus. Termites reproduce by budding, (reproductives, guards, and workers establishing a new colony), and by swarming of males and females that can mate and reenter the ground to begin a new society of these creatures. Since you asked about SentroCon, I am describing behavior of Subterranean termites only. In your region, other specie of termites may exist too.
These days, there are several termiticide applications that are becoming a preference for many termite companies, and they are Premise 75, and Termidore. There are others as well. The industry still uses termiticides that kill as the application initiates and then repels termites as they attempt to reach structure from inside or from outside the home. The newer termiticides I named are non-repellent and thus termites continue to be destroyed as they remain in proximity of the home. It is thought that as termites pass the liquid termiticide as they do water, they are initially impacted while the product is still binding with the soil particulate, they destroy each other.
With IGR treatments that do not attract, and therefore do not impact the termite colony within one year, the use of a conventional insecticide becomes obligatory.
I hope that I've armed you with discernment so that you can more comfortably consult the pros in your region.
Contact me again if you have additional questions.
This is an incredibly detailed and comprehensive reply, and I thank you sincerely for the time and effort. If I may, I'd like to ask some specific questions (based on what I've learned so far).
Entry Points: Based on the areas you mentioned, should I make a strong effort to check each spot? Or, is it better to do what I can in terms of obstructing entry points (w/o becoming obsessed)?
Baiting/poison: If a professional exterminator does the work, is there a specific type of poison I should request? As far as the pros go, do they all use something relatively similar? Also, what about the odor that may emanate from dead and rotting mice. Is it relatively negligeable? Previous owners (we've been there 2 months) had a cat, and we're assuming the current mild odor is from the cat's time spent on the carpet.
Detection: Other than scurrying about in the attic (not heard yet) and feces, what other signs are giveaways of mice in the house?
Misc: We're good about the food and have no pets, but your point about grease is well taken. Are there any cleaning agents that annoy and/or dissuade the mice from coming into an area? And what is a soil stack drop?
Termites: Please correct me on this, but from your response, I gathered that you prefer the termiticide applications as opposed to the SentroCon system. We've had two inspections so far (January 2008 and late October 2007). Our last inspection revealed only a small termite "tunnel" under the front porch (a support of untreated wood for the synthetic porch). Our home is with vinyl siding, built in 1986 and backs up to a wooded lot. Based on this limited info, what would be better: termiticide of SentraCon. And, yes, George, I understand your limitation in answering this broad question.
Our concern with the termiticdes is the invasive quality of its application (drilling in floors, etc.). The rep made it seem like hell, and it's hard to determine if he's simply trying to sell a more expensive system (SentraCon) or providing great info. He said that the termiticides tend to break down relatively or if they hit a rock, disperse underground and become ineffective. Sales pitch or truth?
Again, let me thank you (my wife does too!) for your excellent response. I've learned a great deal from you, and hope you don't mind the extra questions.
Hello Again Lou:
I must confess, I do enjoy my field of work and have always liked helping others, when I am able to help them to themselves,as they are searching for solutions in my field of endeavor.
Point one, the need to check detail for termite presence is important. The possibility of spot-treating a single focal point of entry and then possibly continuing a few feet in either direction of that spot has real merit, but is not practical if using the all out methods under the SentroCon System.
My preference is the use of an anticoagulant bait that is placed where mice are staging a build-up such as in your attic. Secondly placing bait under kitchen platforms or between walls and cabinetry where darkened areas indicate frequency of travel. The use of bait stations placed where mouse droppings accumulate, or along walls in these locations, is my last resort; certainly not the first. Our website will link you to our supplier where bait choices can be made. Weuse several brands, and the staff can elaborate on that.
Odor from poisoning is much reduced when using anticoagulants. Most of the time there is no odor because the mice often die where they live within walls.
Mouse droppings, which average the size of long grain rice, are the easiest sign of mouse presence. An individual mouse can leave as much as 30 droppings per day. Varied dropping size will aid one to determine population estimates. Also darkened surfaces rubbed as mice pass through a tight spot will indicate length of presence when considered along with varied dropping size.
In my previous response, soil stack drop referred to the stack pipe that passes upward from the sewer system through the home's wall soffiting and exits through the roof.
Based on your information regarding choice of termiticides, I would choose a liquid application.
The vinyl siding, when it drops to ground level, covering any concrete footing above ground level, can hide termite evidence, but there are inside viewpoints too. Vinyl can be pulled back for closer examination.
The SentroCon representative was referring to comprehensive termiticide applications as he compared such to his baiting program. There is more flexability when using termiticides. As regards termiticide longevity, the rep was misinformed, in my opinion. The target for residual presence is the soil itself, whereby, the chemical hygroscopically adhers to the particulate matter, creating a bridging effect, particle to particle, in so doing setting up barrier or killing field.
In our industry, we have become the exception rather than the rule. Whereas the industry wishes to press down on maintenance and management, we look to specificity as applied to elimination.
Best wishes and thanks for the critique,
Pest Control Chicago
Termite Exterminator Chicago
American Pest Solutions