Bugman: Poisons not needed for termites

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Our house has been a drywood termite feast for several years. Fortunately, it looks like most of their damage is not structurally significant, but now that we’re in the repair phase, we’d like to treat the beasts effectively. It seems like poison is by far the lower-cost method. We’d prefer no poison, but have to consider the cost. Your thoughts please. – T. V., Augusta

A: You actually can treat drywood termites yourself using Greenbug for Indoors, which is EPA exempt and FDA approved. It works very well. I recommend doing it yourself for new infestations that are easy to access, but it they are established, hire a professional. If you want to try it yourself, Greenbug is available at www.greenbugallnatural.com.

Maybe poison is the lower-cost method, but remember, you get what you pay for, including endangering your family and any pets you may have. Go with the safe method, Greenbug.

If you have subterranean termites, you will probably have to hire a professional. Find one that uses Altriset, which isn’t a deadly pesticide. It will affect termites and nothing else. You can control them yourself in certain situations (crawl space, some slabs), using antibiotics. If you have termites, drywoods or subterranean and want to try it yourself, the information on how to do it is in my book available on myWeb site. The book basically tells you how to control all of your common household pests without using toxic chemicals.

Q: We often have infestations of mice (a pest control inspector came and looked at droppings and said I have mice in the kitchen, not rats) though I have seen rats in the back garden. All my food is now in bottles and big jars. Will you ever address ways to keep mice and rats under control in an urban setting? The pest guy wanted to charge me $1,500 and use some poisons that “I shouldn’t worry about because the dog would have to eat many, many dead mice to get enough poison to kill the dog.” Sounded scary to me, so I am trying to figure out what to do myself. The snap-shut mice traps seem to only encourage the mice to poop all around them. So I am at my wits end. – S. C., Augusta

A: Please, never use that pest fellow. He doesn’t have any idea what he is talking about and shouldn’t even be in the business. Rodenticides (poisons) are very dangerous for all animals, or they wouldn’t kill mice. Any product that will kill one animal will certainly affect another animal. Maybe it wouldn’t kill the dog, but it could make the dog very sick. Is that an option? I would hope not.

Never use rodenticides anywhere for any pest. You can trap them very easily. For mice, set out some snap traps baited with a piece of Slim Jim and place the trap along the wall, with the baited part next to the wall. Or you can use a live trap and catch and release them. The best live trap is a Tin Cat, available from www.pestcontrolsupplies.com. It will hold up to a half dozen mice. Place some oatmeal in the trap to catch mice. For rats, you can use rat-size snap traps and also bait them with Slim Jims. Poisons are never necessary. The reason pest control companies like them is so they don’t have to come back. If they set out snap traps, they would have to come back and check them and remove the mice.

When you catch mice or rats in a snap trap, spray them with a disinfectant such as Lysol and put them in a plastic bag, trap and all, and discard it. Also, never set the traps, live or snap traps, with your bare hands because the rodents may pick up the human odor and avoid the trap.


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