Termites are a type of insect that spend most of their lives hidden out of plain sight. This behavior is related to the overall purpose of the insects, which is to live and colonize inside of the structure they eat–wood.
Pest control measures to eliminate termites are also greatly affected by the elusive behavior of the insects. Sprays and bait traps are only as effective as the areas the products are able to penetrate. Termite foam is a one of the best alternatives to the typical measures used as this formulation allows for prolonged saturation of an infested structure.
Typically in termite control, liquid termiticides are injected into small holes of infested structures which may or may not show signs of termite activity. Exactly pinpointing where the termite colony is in a structure is difficult to gauge without disassembling the structure.
How safe is foam for termite control?
Termite foam is generally safe on wood for full applications that allow the foam to settle over time into the interior of the wood. Liquid sprays usually dry very quickly and even residuals can only be effective in controlling termites if they have reached the area of a colony.
This guide will explore how termite foams work and the overall effectiveness of the products. For reference, we have also included a comprehensive buyer's guide of some of the best termite foams on the market.
In this guide, you will learn:
- How termite foams work against termites
- The effectiveness of termite foam on various types of termites
- How long termite foam works
- The safety of termite foam on interior wood
- Review summaries of the best termite foams available to purchase
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What is the Best Termite Foam on the Market? (Editor's Choice)
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Termite Foams Work?
Termite foam is essentially all of the most popular types of termite insecticides concentrated into a foam as opposed to a liquid or bait trap. Termites are closely grouped and isolated insects that prefer to stay banded together in a colony, preferably inside of the structure they are eating.
Due to this behavior, it is difficult to treat termites in traditional ways as seen with other pests. There are many ways to treat termites and one of the more popular traditional pest control treatments of spraying, can be successful only if the exact location of the colony can be discovered.
These inefficiencies are where the efficiency of termite foam comes into focus. It takes the chemical and disperses it into a congealed mass of foam that can either be injected directly into termite exit holes or left to saturate onto an infested surface.
The success of termite spray is often unpredictable as termites may not find and forage in areas treated with liquid insecticides. Therefore, your skill at applying the termite spray is just as important as the strength of the spray.
These problems are completely eliminated when you use a strong and effective foam. It seeps into the wood over time and covers far more areas of the structure than a spray can achieve.
How Do You Kill Termites Using Foam?
The most common method of treating wood infested with termites is to inject a it directly into the wood and allow it to penetrate deep into the infested pieces. This type of treatment is generally effective in killing all active termites in an infested structure. This can be done by saturating the wood in the foam and then allowing it to dry over time, which will cause the chemical to seep into the structure.
Alternatively, you can inject the nozzle of the canister directly into all cracks and holes on the outside of the wood and spray the foam directly into the exit holes. This may not address the entire colony but is great for directly spraying areas where termites are certainly harboring.
Termite foam is more suited for spot treatments, such as furniture that has become infested by drywood termites. It would require a great deal of product to treat a massive infestation, yet foam with a high potency and large expansion rate can certainly do the job.
Can You Use Foam for Drywood Termites, Subterranean Termites and Dampwood Termites?
Termite foam can certainly kill both of these types, but the problem arises in how these two termite types are distributed. Drywood termites are the most problematic when it comes to wood furniture as they prefer and seek out dry wood as opposed to subterranean termites which prefer moist environments.
Drywood termites build colonies inside your home, feeding on wood that contains little to no moisture. This may include the timber in your walls and roof, as well as the furniture inside your home; in fact, Drywood termites can survive in your wooden furniture for months or even years, wreaking havoc on your wood furniture and structures.
Subterranean termites are usually the type of termite that is most commonly associated with the name termites. They are dependent on contact with soil and the moisture inside of it, which means that this species will reach your home through the earth below it.
The great thing about termite foam is that it can be used either outdoors or indoors. Since drywood termites stay indoors longer, foam is a great choice for eliminating these pests from furniture and other structures.
Subterranean termites may be a bit more problematic in terms of using foam. You can always treat and inject the wood with foam and wait for the foam to kill the colony, which may take some time to fully eradicate the nest.
Is Termite Foam Safe for Humans and Pets?
The safety of termite foam varies across the many different companies that produce the product. The thing to look for is the chemical used in the foam and its overall safety towards humans and pets.
Some foams may only use safer pyrethroids, such as deltamethrin. Although these formulations are indeed safer for indoor use, the kill rate against termites may suffer due to the low toxicity of the chemical.
On the flip side, a more potent chemical, such as fipronil, will indeed cause great damage to a termite colony, yet the propensity for possible side effects in humans and pets is much higher. It really boils down to the difference between what you find is better for your overall environment.
How Long Does It Last For?
Termite foam has a much longer overall residual effect than many different types of termiticides. The foam is designed to seep into structures over time, meaning that the chemical will stay active inside of the termite colony much longer.
Some termite foams may feature a 6-week residual, while others will feature up to six months of residual killing power. The time of the residual will always be listed on the particular product label.
The important detail to remember about it is that each concentration is meant to kill termites over long periods of time, which is an exemplary detail of termite foams in general compared to other control methods.
Do I Need a Professional to Apply It?
Termite foam is designed to be distributed by consumers as opposed to strict, professional applications only. This can certainly be arranged if this is your preferred method of distribution, yet these products are compact and easy-to-use.
Most termite foams will come in a canister that has an applicator tube attached to it. This makes application simple based upon your preferred method, either surface spraying or injections.
It is important to thoroughly spray all of the infested wood to the point of run-off. It is equally important to saturate the wood to reach deep inside of the structure where the termites are dwelling.
Does Termite Foam Protect My Home and Property for the Future?
Termite foam, along with any termite eradication method, is only as good as the level of commitment put into the eradication process. The first line of defense is obviously to eradicate termites from your home and safeguard your home from future infestations.
If you choose to address the problem on your own, it will take a lot of work, but it is certainly feasible. The structural damage caused by the termites will also need to be addressed before any future preventative measures can be properly implemented. Eliminate, repair, and prevent is the process you want to follow.
Termite foam is actually a great termite prevention technique due to the long-lasting residual effects of the foam. All of the interior wood would need to be frequently treated with it to ensure that a year-round residual coverage is maintained.
Can I Use It Indoors Inside My Home?
This question aligns with the overall safety of termite foam. It can certainly be used indoors, even in formulations that feature potent chemicals.
For termite foams containing fipronil or imidacloprid, measures should always be taken to ensure that humans and pets are not exposed to these chemicals for long periods of time. This can be easy for infestations in basements or attics, yet extreme caution will need to be exercised using these chemicals on furniture or in areas of the home in regular use.
For termite foams containing low-toxicity pyrethroids, caution still needs to be maintained but these types of chemicals are generally well-tolerated by humans and pets. As long as safety measures are applied, any termite foam can be used indoors.
Does It Leave Residual Stains or Odors?
Stains and odors can be problematic with termite foams. Since it is concentrated to leave a residual, this will likely leave a stain on all the surfaces the product is applied to. It is important not to wipe this away as that will render the residual ineffective.
Odors may be present based upon the product in question. For the most part, the odor is not overpowering and some companies may even work to make any odor as pleasant as possible. Spectracide is a company that strives to make residual stains and odors as minimal as possible. Checking the label of your preferred product will usually provide the answer.
Buyers Guide: What to Look for When Buying a Termite Foam
Buying a foam will likely find you noticing many similarities between the products. A few key things to keep in mind are as follows:
- Always invest in a foam that features a wide-ranging expansion. Ratios of 30:1 and 60:1 are optimal to ensure that the foam can cover as wide an area as possible. Termite colonies can be vast, therefore, the foam needs to be able to expand rapidly to reach all possible areas of a colony.
- Most termite foams are residual, yet it is also important to read the label or follow this guide to make sure the product has a residual effect. A residual is what makes foam stand out from other termiticides.
- Try to invest in a foam that has little to no run-off. Run-off occurs when the foam begins to dry. If the foam completely runs away from the desired location housing the termites, this will render the foam virtually useless.
- Applicators are important. If you wish to inject the chosen foam directly into termite exit holes, you will want to choose a product that has a thin and pointed applicator at the end of the foaming tube. This will make injections a breeze.
Other Termite Killer Products to Consider
As previously mentioned, termite foams are a great resource to battle termites, yet there are also other methods and effective products that work just as well. A termite spray is perhaps the most utilized method for eradicating termites.
Termite sprays are liquid formulations that can be used to saturate infested wood to destroy a colony. Sprays are effective due to the overall ability to saturate wide areas of wood in a short amount of time.
By far, the most effective termiticide spray available for purchase is Taurus SC by Control Solutions. This odorless spray features fipronil as the main chemical in its arsenal, which works by destroying a termite colony through the sharing of the poison.
Bait stations are perhaps the best termite prevention method available. These products work by luring and poisoning subterranean termites present in lawns. Sentricon is the most widely used bait station and is proven to eliminate termites before the insects can ever make it into a home.
Similar to termite foams are also the option of using dusts to fight against termite infestations. Diatomaceous earth works to destroy termites within 24 hours of contact by desiccating the insects after they walk through the substance.
Whatever your chosen method turns out to be, always ensure that you completely understand the particulars of termite behavior and the habitation activities of the insects.
Termite foam provides one of the most beneficial aspects sought in pest control: residual effectiveness. Because termites burrow deep inside of the structures they both eat and colonize in, eradication methods can be difficult for such an elusive pest.
Termite foam works by expanding after application to administer the chemical foam into a wide area of an infested structure. Different foams utilize different chemicals and active ingredient, from the potent to the generally well-tolerated.
Key things to look out for when selecting a termite killer are wide expansion fields and strong and long-lasting residual effects. Spectracide terminate termite foam is also one of the easiest termiticides to apply and maintain and one application can last for upwards of 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the termite foam chosen.
Termite foam combines easiness in application with maximum effectiveness towards eliminating an infestation.