Pests
In years past, most log homes were small second summer homes and/or hunting or fishing camps. Today's typical log home is a family's primary residence that involves a substantial investment of at least one hundred thousand dollars. With this in mind it is no wonder that log home owners are concerned about protecting their homes against wood destroying organisms.

Prior to the 1930's, most log homes were constructed from large logs from which the sapwood was removed leaving dense, insect resistant heartwood. Most log homes are now made from fast grown pine, spruce, or fir consisting mostly of sapwood. Some are constructed of more insect resistant wood species such as cedar, cypress or hemlock. However, even these woods lose their resistance over time and become prone to infestations. One major pest control company estimated that 40% of the log homes they inspected had some type of active insect or decay infestation.
Approximately 14,000 log homes are constructed each year. This includes homes made from both milled and hand peeled logs. Some homes are supplied as kits while others are constructed by the manufacturer. In addition to log homes, timber frame (also known as post and beam) structures are becoming popular. They too suffer from a high risk of beetle and decay infestations. Typically, a pest control company is contacted by an owner to solve an existing problem. Although it would be easier and less expensive to do a preventative treatment to a log home during the construction process, it rarely occurs. Many log home suppliers are reluctant to admit that their product is subject to insect and decay infestations. Some of the more responsible manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to pretreat their logs with borates, thus preventing many of the problems associated with log homes.
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Wood Rot & Decay Fungi | Wood Boring Beetles | Carpenter Ants | Carpenter Bees | Termites
  1. Decay Fungi
    The most serious problem associated with log homes is decay since it often leads to structural failure of the supporting logs. All too often decay problems are the result of unsound design and construction practices. Splash-back, faulty gutters, unprotected log ends and inadequate roofs or eaves all contribute to the emergence of decay.

    Chemical treatments for decay should never be used to replace structural modifications correcting the initial moisture problem. However when properly applied, chemicals such as borates will stop or slow the decay process until repairs or modifications are completed.
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  2. Powderpost Beetles
    Although usually referred to as powder post beetles, most log homes are constructed from softwoods and true powder post or lyctid beetles infest only hardwoods. The main culprits are usually anobiid beetles. Infestations are typically found on the exterior log surfaces. However, interior infestations can occur, especially in newer homes. In most cases they are a nuisance pest since it takes many years of activity for anobiid beetles to structurally damage a log.
    The major problem associated with an anobiid infestation is damage caused by water infiltrating into emergence holes causing rot. Since anobiid beetles prefer moist wood, moisture elimination should be a part of any control program.

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  3. Carpenter Bees
    Infestations of Carpenter Bees are occasionally a problem in log homes, especially those constructed of Western Cedar. The borates are not effective in discouraging Carpenter Bees from drilling into the wood so other measures must be taken such as the application of topical pesticides. Encapsulated pyrethroids appear to give good results but must be applied during the periods of activity.
    Another note about Carpenter Bees is that they are attracted to existing holes. Filling existing Carpenter Bee holes with wood putty or caulk will significantly reduce the attractiveness of an area to more bees.

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  4. Drywood Termites
    In those areas conducive to drywood termites, log homes are as subject to attack as conventional construction. Infestations usually start at the log ends so inspection of gaps and cracks between logs is particularly important. The same techniques used for treating a log home for wood boring beetles can be used for controlling drywood termites. However, injecting termite galleries with an appropriate pesticide is usually recommended.

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  5. Old House Borers
    Old House Borers are one of the few insects that infest fairly dry wood. Although named the Old House Borer, the first emergence of these beetles usually occurs within five to seven years after construction. While log home manufacturers are often blamed for supplying infested logs, infestation can occur almost any time after the logs have been cut and the bark removed.
    The first sign of an Old House Borer infestation is usually the noise made by older larvae chewing in the wood. This can be very disconcerting to the homeowner, especially in the middle of the night when larvae are most active. The appearance of oval emergence holes is the next step in the process and like an anobiid beetle infestation, most structural damage is caused by water infiltrating exterior emergence holes, thus promoting decay.

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  6. Non-reinfesting Wood Boring Beetles
    Non-reinfesting beetles such as Round Head Borers, Flat Head Borers, Ambrosia Beetles and Bark Beetles will occasionally emerge from logs within the first couple of years after construction. There is no reason to treat a home for these beetles. However, exterior emergence holes should be filled to prevent water penetration into the logs. In the case of Bark Beetles, any bark remaining on the logs should be removed for a variety of reasons.
    In addition to providing food for Bark Beetles, intact bark prevents the logs from drying uniformly and provides a hiding place for a broad spectrum of insect pests.

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Wood Rot and Decay Fungi​​
More wood is destroyed each year by decay than by all the fires, floods, and termites combined! Commonly called rot, wood destroying fungi need three things to survive, air, water, and food. Since we can't eliminate air and their food is the wood in our homes, the only mechanical control mechanism available to us is the elimination of water. Water is the enemy of wood! Although we've all heard the term "dry rot," dry wood will not rot!

The types of wood destroying fungi encountered by pest management professionals and homeowners fall into two basic categories: brown rot and white rot. White rot attacks the cellulose and lignin in the wood giving the wood an off-white appearance. In the later stages the wood becomes spongy to the touch. White rot typically attacks hardwoods and lacks the cubical checking appearance of brown-rotted wood. 

Brown rot commonly attacks softwoods turning the wood dark brown. In advanced stages of decay, wood attacked by brown rot becomes friable and splits appear across the grain giving the wood a "checkerboard" appearance. Infested wood may be structurally weakened in a relatively short period of time. Once brown rot has extracted all of the nutrients from the wood the wood may become dry and powdery. This leaves the impression that dry wood has rotted (dry rot) but in reality it is an old infestation of brown rot. One of the most destructive types of brown rot fungi is poria incrassata, otherwise know as the water-conducting fungus. This type of fungus actually transports water through root-like structures known as rhizomorphs. Infestations of poria incrassata can progress quite rapidly destroying portions of flooring and wood members in a year or two.

One indication of a poria incrassata infestation is the presence of rot in wood with no visible source of water. A moisture meter is the best tool is determining the extent of an infestation. Any wood having a moisture content in excess of 40% without an apparent source of water may well be infected with poria incrassata.
Wood Rot and Decay Fungi
Many people confuse the presence of molds with decay fungi. Although molds are a form of fungi, they typically grow on the surface of wood and generally do not weaken the wood's strength. However, the presence of mold is a good indication that the moisture level in the wood is high enough to also support the growth of decay fungi. Moisture control methods used to prevent decay fungi will also remove conditions favorable for mold growth.
Elimination and Prevention of Decay Fungi
Some type of moisture control should be an integral part of any program designed for the elimination of decay fungi. The following rules are a good place to start:
  • No wood should ever be in contact with the ground. Wood posts, piers, supports, etc. should always rest on concrete footers raised above the level of the surrounding soil.
  • Basements should be waterproof and equipped with a floor drain. If the relative humidity in the basement exceeds 50%, a dehumidifier should be installed.
  • Crawlspaces should be adequately ventilated with at least one square foot of free vent area for every 500 square feet of crawl space floor area along with a moisture barrier covering at least 80% of floor. One vent should be placed within three feet of each corner to prevent "dead air" spaces and in high humidity environments additional vents should be considered.
  • Plumbing leaks should be repaired as soon as they are noticed. Rain gutters need to be clear of debris and roof leaks fixed. Exterior wood should be coated with a water repellent stain.
Chemical Control Methods
Borates are used for treating wood for decay fungi including brown and white rot.
If you are working in a crawl space, be sure to remove any insulation that may be present between the floor joists before you begin and check the entire area with a moisture meter. If there are any sections of wood where the moisture content is 20% or above, a preventative treatment with Armor-Guard is recommended. Follow the label directions and spray the wood to the point of run-off. After treatment, make sure all crawl space vents are open and, if necessary, install temporary fans to help dry the wood before replacing the insulation. We also recommend that moisture control be incorporated into any program involving infestations related to high moisture conditions.
Within a few days after a treatment has been completed the fungi will begin to die and dry up. Occasionally the dead fungi will emit an unpleasant odor as it decomposes. This odor will only last a couple of days and may be minimized with the circulation of fresh air into the treated area.
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Wood Boring Beetles
How do you know if you have an infestation of Wood Boring Beetles? You really cannot tell with a visual inspection of the wood. If there are holes in the wood, they have come from previous generations of exiting beetles. Once beetles exit, they may or may not re-infest the affected wood depending on the beetle species.
Wood boring beetles fall into two major categories, those that infest only live trees or recently harvested wood and those that infest dry, seasoned wood. For all practical purposes, it is not necessary to treat wood for beetles such as round head borers, flat head borers, ambrosia beetles, or bark beetles since they will not re-infest dead wood. However, emergence holes on exterior surfaces should be filled to prevent water from penetrating into the wood, causing decay.
Anobiid Beetles
The most commonly encountered wood boring beetle infestation is caused by the anobiid beetle. Although often called a "powder-post" beetle, it is not a true a powder-post or lyctid beetle. One reason for its widespread presence is its ability to infest both hardwoods and softwoods.
Since most modern construction uses spruce, pine, and fir softwood species, wood members such as floor joists, beams, sills, and studs are susceptible to attack by anobiid beetles. Most infestations start in crawl spaces or other moist areas then move to other sections of the home. Since most infestations develop rather slowly, damage is usually detected in homes older than ten years.
Fine sawdust or frass coming out of small holes in the wood is typically the first sign of the presence of anobiid beetles. The frass has a gritty feel to it as opposed to the talcum powder consistency of lyctid beetle frass. One of the challenges when dealing with an anobiid beetle infestation is the determination of whether the infestation is active or old.
A good method is to cover a six inch area of suspect wood with one layer of masking tape in early to late spring. If after a couple of weeks there are no small holes in the masking tape the chances are that the infestation is old and inactive.
Treatments for anobiid beetles should always start with moisture control. Anobiid beetles prefer moist wood and high moisture levels shorten their life cycle and speed the development of the infestation.
The most effective chemical treatment is the application of borates. Borates make the wood toxic to the developing beetle larvae and prevent newly laid eggs from hatching. Usually it takes from two to three months to eliminate an anobiid beetle infestation.
Lyctid Beetles
The true powder-post or lyctid beetle attacks only hardwoods such as oak, ash, hickory, walnut, and mahogany. Infestations are most likely to occur in hardwood flooring and paneling. Other common infestation sites include bamboo furniture and trim and picture frames made from tropical hardwoods. Like anobiid beetles, the first sign of an infestation is usually fine talcum powder-like frass coming out of tiny round holes in the wood.
Another indicator is the presence of small, elongated black beetles on windowsills and other surfaces.
Lyctid beetles are typically introduced into a home as eggs or larvae in firewood or in new molding that has been improperly stored or dried. They have a relatively short life cycle and an infestation can spread to unpainted wood surfaces within a year or two. The female lays her eggs in the pores of the wood, so if these pores are filled with a paint or stain, the wood will not be susceptible to infestation.
Treating for lyctid beetles is similar to treating an anobiid beetle infestation. Lyctid beetles are particularly sensitive to borates. However, an infestation of lyctid beetles often becomes evident after the infested wood has been coated with a finish. For example, infested wood flooring may show no signs of an infestation until a year or so after it has been installed and finished.
In order to properly treat the floor with a borate it will be necessary to entirely remove the finish by coarse sanding. Once the floor has sanded and cleaned the borate (in this case we recommend Shell-Guard because of its penetrating ability) may be applied. Once dry, the floor may then be fine sanded and the finish reapplied.
Old House Borers
Old house borers present the greatest control challenge to the pest management professional. They are large insects with a life cycle that can extend to 10 or more years. The old house borer attacks only softwoods and the initial introduction typically occurs while lumber is being stored in a lumberyard. Although named the old house borer, the first emergence of these beetles in a home usually appears within five to seven years after construction.
The earliest indication of an old house borer infestation is usually the noise made by older larvae chewing in the wood. This can be very disconcerting to the homeowner, especially in the middle of the night when larvae are most active.
The appearance of oval emergence holes is the next step in the process. The frass consists of fine powder and small tightly packed pellets. Like an anobiid beetle infestation, most structural damage is caused by water infiltrating into exterior emergence holes, thus promoting decay.
Treating a home for old house borers takes some patience on the part of the homeowner. The only quick remedy is a structural fumigation. However, few homeowners are willing to bear the cost of a fumigation or the inconvenience of leaving their home for a few days. Borate treatments work but they take time, sometimes lots of time before total control is achieved. It is not uncommon for old house borer activity to continue for up to a year and a half after a borate treatment.
Additional borate treatments will not speed the control process. Since older beetle larvae are large insects and at that stage of their lives eat little wood, their tolerance to borates is quite high. They will probably complete their life cycle and emerge as adult beetles.
The presence of borate in the wood does two things; first it kills younger beetle larvae that are feeding in the wood, and second it prevents any old house borer eggs from hatching. Thus, the borate treatment interrupts the beetle’s life cycle and eventually the infestation will end.
Best of all, a properly applied borate treatment is PERMANENT. As long as the exterior finish is properly maintained, the borates will remain in the wood doing their job for the life of your home.
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Carpenter Ants
Anyone who has trees on their property has probably seen carpenter ants in their home at one time or another. Carpenter ants are typically large ants, although the size of the workers can vary in a single colony. Finding one or two carpenter ants a week in a home is not necessarily a sign of an infestation. Foraging ants roam far and wide looking for food and an occasional ant trapped in a sink or bathtub is quite common. If there are trees close to the home, ants can be blown off the trees onto the roof. They may end up trapped within the home during their journey back to the nest.

The first thing to remember about carpenter ants is that they do not eat wood! They get their name from their habit of hollowing out wood in order to make a suitable nesting site. In addition to wood, carpenter ants will nest in synthetic foam and rigid board insulation (RBI) panels. A good indication of a carpenter ant infestation within a home is the presence of numerous foraging ants, especially in the kitchen or bathroom. Water attracts carpenter ants as much as food and moist wood around leaky pipes and drains provides an ideal environment for nesting ants. Another sign of an infestation is the presence of large winged ants in late spring and early summer.

Most carpenter ant colonies start outdoors in a tree cavity. After a few years, the colony grows and expands its foraging territory. If suitable conditions are found within a nearby home, satellite colonies may become established in voids, moist wood, or foam panels in the home. These satellite colonies will contain workers, older larvae, pupae, and when conditions are right, some winged reproductives. Once a satellite colony has become established within a structure, the potential for finding additional satellite colonies increases dramatically.

Control of a carpenter ant infestation must start with a complete and thorough inspection. Useful inspection tools include a flashlight, a thin bladed screwdriver for probing the wood, a stethoscope, and a moisture meter for locating high moisture areas. Since carpenter ants are most active at night, the best time to perform an inspection is after dusk. However, this can be impractical for residential accounts. Two prime considerations should be kept in mind while performing an inspection; find the voids and follow the water. Although carpenter ants are usually found in wood, any dark, damp cavity can provide a suitable nesting site. Carpenter ants make a noise like crinkling cellophane as they move about. A stethoscope makes them much easier to hear and locate. Tapping the suspect area excites the ants and you should be able to hear their movement.

When carpenter ants burrow into wood they generate sawdust or frass that can pile up beneath the site of their activity. Carpenter ant frass looks like tiny wood shavings and will often contain parts of dead insects. Look closely at all of the wood directly above any frass piles for signs of an infestation. Probing the wood with a thin bladed screwdriver can reveal hollowed out areas. In addition to food and a nesting site, carpenter ants require water. That's one of the reasons they prefer to nest in damp wood. A moisture meter is a great tool for discovering actual and potential carpenter ant nesting sites. A moisture reading of over 20% is an indication of some type of water problem that needs to be corrected.
TREATMENTS
Correcting water leaks from faulty plumbing and roof leaks is the most important step for long-term carpenter ant control. Even after any leaks have been repaired, enough moisture may remain to sustain a carpenter ant infestation for many months. The application of a contact pesticide directly to the colony is not the best way to control an infestation. Most contact pesticides are highly repellent causing the ants to scatter, thus creating the potential for additional satellite colonies to become established in other areas of the home. In addition, contact pesticides do not impart any long-term residual protection to the wood. After a few months, carpenter ants may return to the site of their original infestation.
A better way to control a carpenter ant infestation is to treat the infested area and those areas subject to infestations with borates.
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Carpenter Bees
Carpenter bees are big black solitary bees that look similar to bumble bees but have bare, shiny backs whereas a bumble bee's back is hairy. Unlike honey bees that reproduce in hives, carpenter bees drill into wood in order to lay their eggs. Their holes are perfectly round and about 1/4 inch in diameter.
Although carpenter bees prefer softwoods such as cedar, redwood, or cypress, they happily attack pine and most other species of wood. Even pressure treated wood is not immune from carpenter bee attack. As the bee drills into the wood, coarse sawdust may be seen coming out of the hole and piling up beneath. Since it only takes a couple of hours for a carpenter bee to drill a hole a few inches deep, lots of holes can appear over a fairly short period of time.
Most carpenter bee activity occurs in early spring when male and female bees emerge after spending the winter in old nest tunnels. Once they have paired and mated, the female bee drills into a suitable site while the male stays nearby to ward off intruders. Male carpenter bees often frighten people with their aggressive behavior but since they have no stinger they are essentially harmless. Females have a stinger but only use it if molested. Once the initial hole is drilled through the surface, the bee will make a turn and excavate a tunnel along the grain of the wood. This tunnel, which may run for several inches, becomes the cavity where the female deposits her eggs. Several eggs are laid in individual chambers separated by plugs of sawdust and pollen on which the larvae feed until they emerge as adults during the summer months. In addition to making new holes, carpenter bees also enlarge old tunnels and if left unattended for several years, serious damage to a wood member may result.
In last fall activity may again be seen as both male and female carpenter bees clean out old nest cavities where they over-winter. Since carpenter bees tend to migrate backe to the same area from which they emerged, it is important to implement some control measures in order to prevent logs and wood members from becoming riddled by these bees.
Treating Carpenter Bee Holes
Any carpenter bees holes you can reach should be treated and plugged since existing holes attract more carpenter bees. The way to treat an existing hole and tunnel depends on the time of year and if bees are present at the time of treatment. If the female is drilling away when you find a hole (you can see sawdust coming out or hear her working inside) spray a contact pesticide like wasp and hornet spray or WD-40 into the hole. She will quickly back out and die. Immediately fill the hole with wood putty or Energy Seal. You need to treat the hole even if it appears empty since the bee may be resting and, if left alive, will drill back through the plug you've just inserted.
If you find carpenter bee holes in late spring or early summer it's difficult to tell if there are bee larvae developing in the tunnels. The best thing to do is to run a length of flexible wire into the tunnels in order to break through the pollen plugs separating the chambers. Then spray a pesticide into the hole and seal it up. Another option is WD-40. It comes with a long, thin tube that's inserted into the nozzle. You need to push the tube into the hole as far as it will go to break through the chamber walls then spray as you pull it out. The same thing shoulg be done on holes found in the fall or winter to kill any bees that may be over-wintering in the holes. Just remember to plug the holes since they will attract more bees come spring.
Preventing Carpenter Bees
Although carpenter bees prefer bare wood they will attack wood that is stained. Painted wood surfaces, on the other hand, are rarely attacked since the bees don't recognize it as wood. We've recently discovered that the presence of a gloss topcoat on top of a stain appears to act somewhat like a painted surface in that carpenter bees rarely drill through it. It could be that the slick, hard surface does not appeal to them.
One way to keep carpenter bees from drilling into wood is by spraying pesticides that contain either cypermethrin or deltamethrin onto wood surfaces. When it comes to carpenter bees, these products act more as repellants thatn contact poisons. However, the effectivness of these applications is only about three to four weeks so the treatment will have to be repeated every so often. Pesticides should only be used during the periods of peak activity in the spring and perhaps again in late fall. Be sure to follow label directions and read and understand any precautions that must be taken when using these product.
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Termites
Log homes, like other structures made from wood, are subject to attack by a variety of wood destroying insects including termites. Although there are thousands of known termite species, there are only a few that are of concern to the log home owner. These can be broken into two main varieties, drywood termites and subterranean termites.
Drywood Termites
Drywood termites are found along the coastal areas of the United States including Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and California. Although named drywood termites, these termites can’t live in completely dry wood since they rely on the moisture in the wood for their source of water. Drywood termites live in small colonies consisting of a few hundred individuals. Like all termites, the colonies are divided up into different castes. At the center of the colony is the queen who is responsible for producing the eggs that ensure the continuous viability of the colony.
A king termite is often found accompanying the queen although his presence is not necessary for colony success. Other caste members include soldiers who guard and protect the nest, reproductives who can establish new colonies, and workers who eat the wood and feed the rest of the colony. Most drywood termite colonies become established through exposed wood ends accessible from cracks and crevices. Signs of an infestation include finding small hard fecal pellets on the floor or other surfaces and seeing winged termites, especially on windowsills. Since drywood termite colonies are relatively small, it usually takes several years for an infestation to cause structural damage. However, if left untreated, damage from a drywood termite infestation will eventually result in costly repairs.
Subterranean Termites
In most areas of the country the term termites refers to subterranean termites. As their name implies, subterranean termites spend most of their time in the soil, typically two to four feet below the surface. Workers, soldiers, reproductives, along with the king and queen make up a subterranean termite colony that typically consists of several hundred thousand termites.
When foraging, workers spread out from the nest, usually just beneath the surface of the ground, looking for food. They feed on cellulose including plant materials, dead tree roots and limbs, and the wood in a home. Since there are many thousands of feeding termites in a colony, subterranean termites can do a substantial amount of damage in a fairly short period of time.
In addition to cellulose, termites are attracted to water. If these two elements can be combined as in wet wood, an ideal environment is created for termite attack. Moisture control and the avoidance of wood to ground contact are the most important factors in removing conditions attractive to termites. Much can be done during the design and construction stages of a log home to eliminate conditions conducive to termite attack.
The first indication of a termite infestation is usually the presence of mud tubes going up walls, piers, or other vertical surfaces. Termites make these tubes in order to maintain a moist environment. Since they have soft bodies they rapidly lose water when exposed to dry air and the mud tubes give them protection from both predators and dehydration.
Another sign of a termite infestation is a termite swarm within the home. Many people mistakenly identify swarming termites as flying ants but it’s easy to tell the difference if you know what to look for. Ants have a narrow waist whereas the termite’s body is fairly straight back to the abdomen.
When termites swarm in the thousands, a homeowner’s first impulse is to run for the can of pesticide and spray them down. There is no reason to do this since all of the swarming termites will be dead in an hour or so anyway. The best way to handle them is to vacuum them up. The next thing to do is to call a pest control professional for a termite inspection. The presence of swarming termites in a home is a sure indication that a mature termite colony is located within or close to the structure.
Formosan Termites
Over the past few years, an imported termite species, the Formosan termite, has invaded a number of southern and southwestern states. Formosan termites are a variety of subterranean termites whose colonies may contain over a million individuals.
Although similar in appearance to native subterranean termites, their voracious appetite and large colony size set them apart from our native species. They have been known to cause significant structural damage in a matter of months. They also tend to establish aerial infestations with nests called cartons that have no contact with the ground. This is one reason they are so difficult to control. However, Formosan termites need the same set of conditions to survive as our native termites.
Termite Treatments
  1. Soil treatments
    In the past, soil poisoning was about the only method used for protecting a structure from termite attack. Due to their negative impact on the environment, many of the chemicals used 15 years ago are no longer available.
    The new soil termiticides fall into two basic categories, repellent and non-repellent. The objective of a repellent soil termiticide is to form a barrier around the structure that termites will not penetrate. This is the type of treatment typically used in "pre-treatment" site applications prior to construction.
    For remedial treatments the termiticide is injected into the soil to the base of the foundation and poured into a trench around the foundation perimeter. One limitation of this type of treatment is that if the soil surrounding the structure is disturbed, it may provide a path for termites to enter within the treated barrier. The newest technology in soil treatments is development of non-repellent termiticides. Foraging termites do not detect these products and they freely pass through the treated soil. The foraging termites carry minute amounts of the toxicant back to the nest and eventually the termite colony is eliminated.
    Since non-repellent termiticides have only been on the market a few years the longevity of their efficacy is not yet known. So far the results over a five year period look quite promising and many professional applicators have incorporated non-repellent termiticides into their termite control programs.
  2. Topical treatments
    Topical applications of various chemicals have been used for years to make wood resistant to termite attack. Some chemicals like pentachlorophenol and creosote are no longer available for general use.
    Within the past ten years pest management professionals and homeowners have found topically applied borate formulations to be an effective method of termite prevention and control. Two basic borate formulations are being used in these applications, pure disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT), and a combination of borate and liquid glycols.
    Log homes, like any other structure containing wood components, are subject to attack by termites. Many aspects of a log home’s design and construction can help reduce those conditions that make a home attractive to termites.
    All too often a log home owner worries about protecting their logs but forgets about the other wood components of the home such as floor joists, sill plates, and pier assemblies. Soil termiticides, termite baits, and wood treatments all have a role in an effective integrated termite avoidance program, but they are not substitutes for quality design, construction, and maintenance.
  3. Termite baits
    There are a number of termite baits now available to pest management professionals. Although the mode of action and installation instructions may differ, the basic concept for all termite baits is the same. The objective is to get foraging termites to feed on the bait and take it back to the nest eventually killing all of the termites in the colony.
    Bait stations containing cellulosic materials are placed around a structure with the hope that termites will find one or more of them and begin feeding. Some of the baits require an initial non-toxic attractant be replaced with a toxic bait whereas others start off with a bait containing an active ingredient.
    One problem with baits is the time it takes for termites to find and begin feeding on a bait. It may take a few weeks or many months before control is achieved. In the meantime, termites may continue their feeding activity on the structure.
  4. Wood Treatments
    Pressure treating wood with various chemicals has been used for years as a method to prevent termite attack. As in the case with soil termiticides, many of the chemicals that were used in the past are no longer available. Wood pressure treated with CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) is commonly used in most of the country. However, a recent agreement between wood treating companies and the EPA will result in a removal of arsenic from many of the formulations used to protect wood from termite attack.
    As of January 2004, the EPA will not allow wood products intended for residential use to be treated with CCA. One alternative for CCA already in use is a borate, disodium octaborate tetrahydrate. A few log home manufacturers have been pressure treating their logs with borates for several years and report excellent resistance to termites and other wood destroying insects.
    In addition to pressure treatment, logs and dimensional lumber may be impregnated with borates through the dip-diffusion process. In this method of treatment green wood is immersed in a vat of concentrated borate solution. When removed from the treating solution, the wood must be protected from rain or snow while the borate diffuses into the wood. Once the diffusion process is complete, the wood may be dried or handled the same as untreated wood.
    The advantages of borate treatments include:
    ♦ No change in the wood’s appearance or shaping characteristics.
    ♦ Low mammalian toxicity.
    ♦ Not considered a hazardous waste.
    ♦ Imparts protection from termites, wood boring beetles, and decay fungi.
    ♦ Long lasting if protected from the elements.
    The main disadvantage is that borate treated wood is not suitable for use in contact with the ground or continuous immersion in water.
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