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The ghost in the shell

How a ground-breaking innovation can provide the ultimate protection against termites for Australian builders.

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Revered sixth-century military strategist Sun Tzu famously once said: ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.’ Can such an ideology transcend beyond human behaviour, and into the wider world we live in, our suburbs, and our family homes?

Pioneering global organisation Corteva Agriscience believes it can. Known for its research and innovative work in the farming arena, the company also leads the world in termite management systems with the aim of combating the tiny squadrons of subterranean snacking machines underfoot who are forever on the lookout for their next meal. These mighty but insidious bandits cause havoc in our built environments, and with nearly one-third of Australian homes impacted, it’s obvious why termite protection is an essential element in every build.

 
mites two

AlwaysActive

Understanding that chemical and physical barriers have their limitations, and wanting to reduce chemicals within the environment, Corteva studied how termites behave, how they feed and how they grow for possible answers. According to Joanne George, professional pest business manager, it’s understanding their biology that is the key to their management.

‘We know that termites are constantly foraging and searching for their next meal,’ she says. ‘Like many insects they have an external skin, or exoskeleton. For a termite to live and grow, it has to shed this outer skin on a regular basis, which is called moulting.’

Joanne adds that once this natural shedding cycle is halted, the termite cannot grow.

‘[That means] no growth, no feeding, no termites and, ultimately, no colony,’ she says. ‘Being able to use this process against termites was the first step. Packaging this into an effective and durable system took another 17 years of research, with the final result being Sentricon AlwaysActive.’

First and foremost the food had to be much more desirable than their usual dead plant and cellulose fare.

‘In lab tests, when given a choice, termites chose to eat Sentricon 10 times more often than wood,’ Joanne says.

Secondly, it had to be so powerfully effective that it could destroy the entire colony – therefore it is what happens after they feed that is really critical. ‘The termites lay down trails to the stations for other worker termites and share their food with the entire colony. 

‘The colony either dies at their next moult or due to starvation from a loss of workers.’

 

The effectiveness of the Sentricon system is backed by unparalleled research, with more than 70 scientific articles published, providing independently produced evidence of the ability of the Sentricon system to eliminate termites worldwide. 

Thirdly, the system had to be active from the moment of installation and yet durable enough to provide protection in any environment over many years. 

‘Studies in the US have shown ongoing effectiveness of the individual rods after more than ten years in the ground,’ Joanne explains. ‘The system needs only to be replenished if consumed by termites.

‘When the Sentricon system was first launched, leading expert of Urban Entomology Professor Nan-Yao Su from the University of Florida described it as “a paradigm shift in termite control [that] has profoundly changed the way subterranean termites are controlled worldwide.” His research, more than any others’, has shown that Sentricon works – it really works!’

The system involves a perimeter of ‘stations’ positioned in the ground around a building. Today, properties from the US White House to Hunter Valley vineyards have seen the benefits of the system.

In practice, AlwaysActive is safe and flexible. Since the stations are placed around the perimeter of the property they can be applied to new builds, renovations or existing properties, easily and expertly. There is no need to treat the soil or to dig trenches, and the termite food is non-harmful to homeowners, pets and the environment.

After the pest manager completes a full inspection of the home and surrounds, the stations are installed and commence working immediately. They are then checked and assessed for activity at intervals in the future by the manager.

 

At the core of the Sentricon AlwaysActive system is its versatility. The architect has full design scope for new builds and extensions, the builder has an easy option that doesn’t require specific scheduling of operations and the pest manager has an effective termiticide that is easily replenished. 

 

‘The system’s inherent flexibility and adaptability, combined with its effectiveness and safety for people and the environment, are unique,’ Joanne says. ‘It is also an ideal termite management system in difficult and sensitive locations, including steep slopes, heritage homes or construction on hydrophobic soil.’ 

East coast builder Ross Jackson couldn’t agree more. ‘I was building on a very steep block of land where the house had a series of block retaining walls that were back filled, and strip footings butted up against that retaining wall and continued on up the hill to the next stage,’ he says.  

‘Due to that design of building, it really made other termite management systems impossible to use. The Sentricon system was a simple and pain-free solution to all of the issues. In this case, it was a dream come true.’

So, all in all, what is good news for homeowners, pest managers, builders, architects and the environment is very bad news for termites. Knowing your enemy is the key.

For further information visit www.sentricon.com.au or speak to your pest manager.

 

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