This is the most common question from homeowners trying to decide which form of treatment to purchase. The question is a difficult one with no simple answer. Factors to consider in the purchasing decision include:

1. Are you opposed to having your floors and walls drilled, or furnishings moved?

Homeowners considering a bait treatment are usually relieved to learn that their carpeting won’t have to be rolled back, their floors extensively drilled, or furnishings moved, as is often the case with conventional liquid applications. The technician may not even need to come indoors to install or monitor the stations. Drilling noise, concrete dust, application hoses, and similar disturbances are avoided.

2. Are you opposed to having pesticides applied in and around your home?

Conventional liquid treatments utilize hundreds of gallons of termiticide, injected into the soil under and around the house. Health and environmental risks from such treatments are generally considered negligible, but some householders still are apprehensive. With baits, the amount of pesticide applied is minute and confined in tamper-resistant stations.

3. Are there construction features that make it hard to treat with a liquid?

Some buildings have wells, cisterns, nearby ponds or streams, plenums, sub-slab heating ducts, drainage systems, inaccessible crawl spaces, or other features that complicate treatment of soil with a liquid. With baits, such conditions aren’t a problem and may be the only feasible form of treatment. Houses that were unsuccessfully treated with liquids also are candidates for baits, since they do not require gaining access to hidden or hard-to-reach areas.

4. How quickly must the infestation be eliminated?

A limitation of all termite baits is that they are relatively slow acting compared to the effects of liquids. Several months may pass before termites find the baits underground and distribute them to their nestmates. Consequently, the elimination process can take several months or longer to complete, and a degree of feeding and damage may occur before the bait takes effect. Homeowners with a severe termite infestation or those involved in a real estate transaction may not want to wait this long — preferring instead that a liquid be applied alone or in combination with baits.

5. How much are you willing to spend for treatment?

Termite services vary in price from about $700 to $2500 for initial treatment, and $70 to $350 for the annual renewal warranty in case termites return. Baiting often is more costly than liquid treatment because the process requires several visits to the structure to monitor for termites, and add or replenish baits. Homeowners should consider both the initial treatment price and the annual renewal fee in making their purchasing decision. Whereas liquid treatments usually entail an annual followup inspection, bait renewals typically require three or four visits per year, for as long as the contract is in effect. Thus, the annual renewal fee for baiting may be two to three times higher than for liquid treatments. Failure to maintain the annual renewal agreement can be a prescription for disaster with baits, since there is no residual pesticide left in the soil after the termites have been eliminated. Ongoing structural protection depends on monitoring for the possible return of termites in the future.