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Water Well Contamination

Summary: When treating the soil for termites you must make considerations if water wells are nearby. Termiticides are not supposed to move (translocate), but water well contamination is a distinct possibility.

Harry; Reading, PA asks:
Our water well is only six feet from the front of our home. Is it safe to use Termidor SC with the well so close? Which is the best method of treating in this situation? Baiting or liquid? Also, are both treatments pet friendly?

Dear Harry:
I would not use any liquid termiticide with a well so near the house. Your situation is perfect for termite baits. Liquids are not supposed to translocate (move in the soil), but I can tell you from personal experience that they can.

The Termidor SC label warns, "Do not apply Termidor SC within 5 feet of any well or cistern by rodding and/or trenching or by the backfill method. Treat soil between 5 and 10 feet from the well or cistern by the backfill method only." The "backfill" method means that the soil along the side of the foundation of the structure is to be dug out and placed on heavy plastic sheeting, treated, mixed, allowed to dry, then returned to the hole from where it was dug out. The majority of pest control operators will not do this because of time constraints. In addition, the labor requires, "Prior to treatment, if feasible, expose the water pipe(s) coming from the well to the structure, if the pipe(s) enter the structure within 3 feet of grade. Again, it is unlikely this process will ever be done.

I am a firm believer in termite baits and specifically Sentricon baits. Dow AgroSciences has invested far more in research than any other termite bait manufacturer, regardless of what claims you hear. Sentricon baits cost pest management companies more to use because of the Dow licensing arrangement, but I feel it is worth it. Not all pest management companies feel the same, however. One very large national pest control company switched from Sentricon to another brand. It saved them millions of dollars, but their customers no longer get the protection that was originally promised.

Dow AgroSciences requires users of its Sentricon product to check in-ground bait stations no less than three times a year. Reports are electronically sent back to Dow AgroSciences to confirm the checks have been done. All that labor to check stations costs money. Other bait manufacturers do not mandate timely inspections, so the customer is not getting the bang for their buck. It is not difficult to figure out. In-ground termite bait stations must be monitored for termite activity. If you don't monitor the stations, how do you know when to replace the bait? Get it?

All termite baits are pet friendly. The baits are inside locked stations that are inserted into the ground. Liquid baits are supposed to be injected into the ground. So, they should be pet friendly, as long as puddles of pesticide are not left sitting on top of the soil. Termidor is extremely toxic to fish and wildlife. The label of Termidor says, "People present or residing in the structure during application must be advised to remove their pets and themselves from the structure if they see any signs of leakage." There is no chance of "leakage" with termite baits.

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