[Termite Technology] Is Termatrac on Your Radar?

Features - Termite Control

This new technology promises a paradigm shift in termite treatment for PMPs. Here’s how.

June 29, 2012
Jennifer Kreitzer O'Keef
Termatrac’s T3i (in radar mode) being used on a wall with a simulated inset of termites is shown at right. The radar emits a microwave signal responsive to the shape of a termite. Its reflection detects the movement of a target through solid material.

Termites beware: you can run, but the Termatrac T3i is making it harder to hide.

Already in use in 22 countries worldwide, the Termatrac T3i reached U.S. soil in January 2011 in the California and Florida markets and distribution has since spread. The device is designed to detect, locate and confirm the presence of termites using a termite detection radar, remote thermal sensor with laser guide and a moisture sensor. Data from these three technologies is transferred via Bluetooth technology to a PDA for on-site, real-time viewing and storage and can be organized for analysis and property report generation.

According to Peter Baldwin, Termatrac sales and marketing director, the Termatrac T3i has the potential to shift the paradigm in termite management. “The Termatrac is the only device that combines the three most essential termite detection technologies into one unit,” he said. “The patented radar is also the only device on the market that can pick up movement through almost any building material. That level of detection allows for the most highly efficient targeting of termiticide applications possible.”

The utility of the Termatrac’s termite detection radar function is supported by recent research by Dr. Brian Forschler of the University of Georgia and Robert Hickman, market development specialist at BASF Pest Control Solutions. The study, published in Insects in January 2012, evaluated the effectiveness of localized treatment techniques for drywood termite control using the Termatrac termite detection radar to identify live termite activity. The results indicated that the Termatrac was 90.5 percent effective at locating live termites. “The Termatrac readings were extremely accurate,” says Forschler.

In the study, Forschler’s team examined 462 sections of 21 naturally infested cypress boards using the Termatrac termite motion detector to identify and measure drywood termite activity. Indications of motion, assumed to be drywood termite activity, were recorded by board and section numbers. Activity was recorded one day before treatment, the day of treatment and 65 days after treatment. After the Termatrac readings on day 65, the boards were cut into pieces and sections were destructively sampled to remove all termites and verify reading accuracy and treatment efficacy.

“The consistency of the results increased our level of confidence in using the device,” says Forschler. “We found termites where the data said they would be, even in small numbers.” One board tested consistently provided activity data at one location and only eight termites were recovered from that site at the end of the study.

The rate of false negatives by board, or the rate at which termites were found where they hadn’t been identified by the Termatrac termite detection radar, was 9.5 percent, or 2 out of 21 boards. “The termites could have moved between readings and sampling, or we could have missed them,” explains Forschler. “No matter what device is intended to help PMPs, you need to understand how it works and how to interpret the data.”

Forschler’s drywood termite control research results are also supported by years of his own anecdotal experience using the Termatrac termite detection radar in his subterranean research work at the University of Georgia

Termatrac’s T3i in use on a wall with termite movement shown on the PMP’s PDA.

For the past 10 years, Forschler and his team have conducted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to manage subterranean termites at more than 130 campus buildings. Initially he used the first generation Termatrac T1r model (a model almost solely used by researchers since its introduction in 1999) but has now integrated the Termatrac T3i into his work. “The termite detection radar has been invaluable in our work to verify treatment success,” Forschler says, “No other tool gives results as quickly and consistently accurate.”

Promising technology. The utility of the Termatrac T3i termite detection radar may mean trouble for termites, but certainly holds promise for PMPs. Enhanced detection capabilities fill a void, especially in drywood termite control. “Drywood termites are a cryptic insect and are often difficult to find through non-destructive means,” says Forschler. “The Termatrac T3i makes it possible to identify infestation level and location without opening up walls — an important step before deciding on a treatment plan.” Additionally, because there is no tapping or prodding involved, the termites are not disturbed and do not retreat, but instead remain active, increasing the accuracy of inspection.

Armed with Termatrac inspection data, PMPs can feel more confident offering drywood termite treatment options, including local treatments. “If you can pinpoint the exact location and the infestation is small, local treatments become a possibility,” says Forschler. He says the drywood termite treatment methodology of the future will include the use of a Termatrac termite detection radar to locate activity and a Resistograph drill to penetrate galleries in combination with local termiticide applications. “The ability to provide a measure of efficacy before and after treatment with the Termatrac alleviates some of the current issues surrounding local treatments for drywoods,” he says.

The functionality of Termatrac has implications for subterranean termite treatment as well. The tracking procedure of the Termatrac termite detection radar shows both the extent of the activity and the direction the termites are traveling. This allows a trained technician to “follow” termites to locate entry points and helps establish where the main nest may be outside of the building.

Regardless of the termite species targeted, the utility of the Termatrac offers another benefit to PMPs in Forschler’s eyes. “This is really a customer satisfaction tool,” he says. “For the first time, PMPs can show a customer activity levels without causing any destruction to property. Then post-treatment, PMPs can prove treatment effectiveness.” Such proof goes far in not only giving customers confidence in the PMP and the treatment choice, but also peace of mind that their home is once again protected.

From a business perspective, the Termatrac can help enhance the bottom line. “In Florida, the termite pressure is intense,” says Allen Fugler, executive vice president of the Florida Pest Management Association. “Tools like the Termatrac can help our PMPs competitively and economically,” he said. “It’s a business expense that should provide a return-on-investment with increased market differentiation.”

Economically, more precise treatment plans based on more effective inspections can help PMPs control inventory costs because less product can be applied in a more effective and efficient manner. “When viewed from a loss control perspective, use of technology-aided inspections can reduce legal liability,” adds Fugler.

From an industry perspective, the Termatrac offers additional promises. “The Termatrac T3i exemplifies the industry’s commitment to improving the technology and techniques we use, to becoming better business professionals overall, and to providing better customer service,” says Fugler. “Use of technologies like this shows the growth and adaption that the industry needs to survive. The Termatrac can help deliver on the promise of IPM to consumers, and that is the future of our industry.”

Forschler agrees. “The Termatrac enhances the credibility factor for PMPs,” he says. “Every serious professional should consider having one.”


The author is a Milwaukee, Wis.-based freelance writer. She can be reached a jokeef@giemedia.com.

For more information about the Termatrac T3i, visit www.termatrac.com.

For a related story called “Technology Worthy of CSI But Tailored for a PMP” visit www.pctonline.com and click “online extras.”