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A treatment with Vikane penetrates the whole house, so it eliminates termite infestations in the structure – even those impossible to inspect or reach with a spot treatment.
Chemical spot treatments, such as Termidor insecticide, can be effective in eliminating a drywood termite colony if it has been located. The important point is that only discoverable colonies can be treated. This may be easy enough if the termites are in a door frame, window frame or some other visible and accessible location. In such cases, spot treatments with a proven insecticide can be effective.
The effectiveness of products used in spot treatments varies. For example, research shows that orange oil, under the brand name XT-2002, may allow up to 50 percent drywood termite survival in wood treated with a 92 percent concentration of its active ingredient, d-limonene. This ingredient is closely related to turpentine1 and flammable at a flash point of 115 F. The oil’s solvent properties may mar paint and other finishes when used in concentrations required for termite treatment, and research indicates that it reacts to ozone in potentially harmful ways.2-4
A heat treatment is the only alternative to fumigation that may eliminate all drywood termites from a structure, but with limitations. The concept of using heat is easy to understand; it breaks down vital enzymes within the insects’ cellular membranes.
However, effective heat treatment is labor intensive and not easy to accomplish. To do so requires enough heat for a sufficient period of time. This means sealing the structure and heating it for four to six hours until the core temperature inside the largest wood members reaches 120 F to 130 F for up to an hour.4 This may require reaching temperatures as high as 160 F to overcome the heat-robbing effects of insulation, brick walls or other construction factors. Without constant monitoring, it is virtually impossible to ensure that the core of all wood members have reached lethal temperatures.
Another limiting factor is that household items such as televisions and computers must be removed or insulated to prevent damage.
So, while it is possible to use heat to eradicate termites from an entire structure, it is important to note that a heat treatment is not fully comparable with a treatment with Vikane gas fumigant.
Heat and microwave treatments used to treat only a portion of an infested building will have no effect on drywood termite colonies living in untreated areas of the building.
1Mashek, B., and W. Quarles. 2008. Orange Oil for Drywood Termites: Magic or Marketing Madness? Source
2Wainman, T., J. Zhang, C. J. Weschler, and P. J. Lioy. 2000. Ozone and Limonene in Indoor Air: A Source of Submicron Particle Exposure. Source
3Science Lab. 2013. Material Safety Data Sheet: DLimonene MSDS. Source
4Lewis, V. R., A. M. Southerland, and M. I. Haverty. 2014. Drywood Termites. Source