While preventative measures and periodic pesticide spraying is very effective for a large number of household pests, there are some types that simply require a different and more focused approach. Baiting stations are effective for a number of different pests, including mice, rats, and termites. A baiting station works by setting poison in a mostly-enclosed container so that it attracts only the kind of pest you are trying to take care of. The size varies depending on what kind of pest it’s for, and the number used depends on how large of a pest problem you have.
Mice are the most commonly targeted pests for baiting station use. Many homeowners don’t want to deal with the mess of catching mice on traditional mousetraps, or they don’t have the space to safely place mousetraps with pets or children in the home. Others want a less obtrusive and obvious solution to their rodent problem. Baiting stations are an effective solution to these problems, as they are low profile and house the rodent poison inside a closed container that only rodents can access. Bait stations can be constructed easily at home or bought ready to use for soft baits like peanut butter or cheese, or hard baits like grain or seed. Some can even be utilized for liquid bait. Some bait stations cannot be opened at all, while others are refillable and consist of a locked container that can only be opened with a key. There are 4 tier levels for ready-to-use baiting stations that vary in tamper-resistance and weather resistance. For Tier 1 baiting stations, as long as the poison used to bait the station is stored in a safe place away from pets and children, baiting stations are very safe to use.
Typically it is more effective to use multiple bait stations with small amounts of bait in them. These should be placed close to walls, relatively close together, in corners of rooms and in cabinets, anywhere you suspect the mice may be feeding or living, and at any openings around the outside of the building where mice could gain entry. Keep in mind that mice can squeeze into openings smaller than a dime, while rats can fit through openings as small as a quarter. Be sure to use a baiting station to match the pest, as rats won’t be able to fit into a mouse baiting station.
Arguments against baiting stations are that the poison does not kill the rodent instantly and causes it to suffer before death, which some see as cruel and inhumane. Baiting stations also do not allow you to control where the rodent dies, which can lead to bad odors if it dies in a place where you cannot retrieve it. For individuals with these concerns, there are many other effective rodent control options such as snap traps (although these do not always kill the rodent instantly), electronic traps, and humane traps that don’t kill the rodent so that you can release it elsewhere. For individuals who don’t have these concerns, baiting stations are often very effective because they give the rodent a place to feed where it feels secure, they keep the bait from being spilled inadvertently, and allow the bait to be placed in areas that other traps can’t reach.
Baiting has also become more prevalent in termite removal tactics. The standard used to be spraying pesticides into the ground around a building to protect the structure long-term from underground termite attacks. However, many of the longer-lasting pesticides used for this method have been banned and are no longer available due to concerns over harming the surrounding environment. Since only short-term pesticides are available for this method, pest control has largely turned to baiting in order to take care of termite problems. The strategy of baiting for termites is to kill the worker termites with the bait so that the queen and soldier termites will starve and the entire colony is taken care of.
First is the pre-baiting stage, in which termite detector stations (also called monitors or termite bait stations) are are placed for the termites to find. The stations only have wood in them at this point, so that the scout termites can find them and tag them for worker termites in the colony to begin feeding on. It can take 8 to 12 months for termites to find the bait and establish a feeding cycle, because the disturbed soil caused by installing the termite stations actually repels the termites.
The structure of the termite station is such that the wood can be checked from time to time in order to determine whether there is any termite activity yet. Once termites begin feeding on the wood, the next stage is to swap the clean wood for the toxicant-laced wood, so that the workers begin taking it back to the colony. The final stage occurs when the workers in the colony die, and the rest of the colony eventually dies off as well.
There are two types of toxicants to choose from. Chitin inhibitors take longer to work because they only affect the immature workers in the colony. Since termites can live 5 or 6 years, some estimate that it could take 8 years for Chitin inhibitors to effectively eliminate a termite colony. The general consensus in the pest control community is that slower is better, because it takes time to thoroughly work through the termite colony. Metabolic growth inhibitors, however, affect all of the termites that eat it, and kills them off in 60 to 90 days.
Termite baiting for effective elimination can be a long process. However, if you have the patience to do some experimenting and do it yourself, you can save thousands of dollars over several years compared what it will cost to have it done by a professional. You can buy baiting systems just like what professionals use and install them yourself. If you prefer the peace of mind of letting the experts do it (some have electronic monitoring systems that make it easier to measure termite activity), pricing varies per square foot but can average around $1600 for the first year and then $400 for every year after that. Since the type of toxin will greatly affect your time frame, be sure to explore your options before committing to one company.