Steve Tvedten's "The Bug Stops Here"
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Internal workings of a termite body

Far more volatile, synthetic pesticide poison is used to control termites than any other structural pest you will ever encounter. No volatile synthetic residual insecticide or economic poison is completely safe no matter what the professional pest control industry claims. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when it approves one of the economic poisons, basically is only concerned with the harmful effects that occur from a single exposure of only the active ingredient by any route of entry or its acute toxicity expressed as its LD50 or LC50 value which is the lethal dose or concentration (relative amount) of only the active ingredient required to kill 50% of a test population, e.g., male rats. LD50 values are recorded in milligrams of active ingredient per kilogram of body weight of the test animal. LC50 values are recorded in milligrams of active ingredient per volume of air or water. Both units are the same as parts per million (ppm) which compares to 1 minute in 2 years or 1 inch in 16 miles. Inert ingredients, metabolites, contaminants, synergistic effects and chronic exposures are not evaluated, even if they are more toxic or restricted than the active ingredient.

With the ever increasing and skyrocketing violence, asthma, heart arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats and/or heart attacks, cancer rates, pulmonary problems, health problems, neurological diseases and the rapidly accumulating data that exposes the toxic disruption of our endocrine systems that control all sexual traits, fertility and reproduction, all life as we know it is literally hanging in the balance. That is why we recommend you use mechanical alteration and only sodium borate and refuse to use any volatile, synthetic residual pesticide poisons.

In the 1990s, the EPA listed over 2,518 chemicals that it allows manufacturers to add to pesticide poison formulations as inert ingredients. Inerts can include antifreeze, wood alcohol, asbestos, solvents, stabilizers, emulsifiers and preservatives. Many synthetic residual pesticides are 80% to 99% inert ingredients. In addition, in some cases EPA allows pesticide poisons to be manufactured using recycled hazardous wastes or to contain contaminates such as DDT or dioxins.

Forty of the inert ingredients allowed by EPA in pesticide formulations are also classified by EPA as inerts of toxicological concern. This means they are: probably human carcinogens, known animal carcinogens, brain or nervous system toxins, capable of causing other chronic effects or adverse reproductive effects, or acutely toxic at concentrations of one part per million or less to some tested species. Methyl bromide is an extremely toxic fumigant that is easily inhaled or absorbed through the skin. EPA considers methyl bromide so dangerous that it permits only certified pest control applicators to use products which contain it as an active ingredient. However, EPA has also classified methyl bromide as an inert ingredient, meaning that the pesticide manufacturers may add it to other pesticide poisons without even testing it or even listing it on the registered label! Therefore, the real dangers of these poisons is not currently accessible.

If you are chemically sensitive, we suggest you only try termite predators, e.g., nematodes and/or predator mites, baits, antibiotics, salts, fans, food-grade DE, dehumidifiers, rain gutters, proper grading, ventilation, moisture barriers, sand barriers and/or mechanical alteration, then if you still have any pockets of resistance the only natural chemical/pesticide we recommend that you use is called sodium borate; it is a naturally occurring material that has trace amounts of arsenic; TIM-BOR powder has no added inert ingredients; BORA-CARE liquid also contains ethylene glycol and water; IMPEL RODS are solid borate fungicide rods. If you can not find them, spray all unfinished sole plates, sill boxes and infested wood with 1½ cups of borax per gallon of hot water 3 times to the point or run-off, letting the wood dry between each spraying. In addition, we also recommend you use other non-toxic controls such as exclusion, mechanical alteration, temperature controls, biological controls, sanitation and other integrated pest management techniques. We are firmly committed to your safety and we will always attempt to help you permanently control your pest problems with the least amount of toxin possible! ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LABEL DIRECTIONS AND REMEMBER BORAX AND/OR BORON PRODUCTS WILL NOT PENETRATE FINISHED WOOD!

What are the dangers? If you are still thinking about hiring someone to apply hundreds of gallons of some volatile, synthetic residual poison in your building - please only have them treat outside and spot treat inside only if absolutely necessary. Be very careful, especially if there is a well within 100' of any soil treatment. Do not let anyone treat your home's interior with any synthetic residual termiticides, especially if you have heat ducts in your slab or have a crawl space that is used as a plenum air space or if you have unsealed cracks or expansion joints in your slab floor or foundation, or if your blocks are visually open on top, or if anyone in your home is over 60, under 1, pregnant, chemically sensitive, allergic or has any breathing problems.

It has now been estimated that over 75% of all U. S. homes built prior to April, 1988 are still contaminated with significant levels of chlordane - do you really want more poison contamination? When you compare the typical organophosphate termiticide label with the agricultural label, you find the termite poison label allows the professional to apply over 300 times the amount of active ingredient inside your home than what is considered to be a safe application to an acre of ground outside and yet the same label states it is unsafe and illegal to apply this diluted poison inside a barn where the animals or birds will be used for food!

Remember that before the introduction of any of these synthetic residual economic poisons called termiticides, homes and barns miraculously stood for centuries. It is far more important to protect your health than to try to save a few 2" x 4"s with synthetic poisons that will continue to volatilize into your home for years and years and years!

Volatile, synthetic residual pesticide poisons or termiticide poisons supposedly kill or repel either by poisoning the soil or contacting the insect. This means contamination of nearby water sources and ambient air can occur and/or that toxic surface and ambient air contamination may be present for years after their labeled and "registered" poison application. Sodium borate is applied directly to the wood, thereby eliminating most potential soil, air or water contamination. Sodium borate penetrates throughout the wood and leaves no toxic surface residue. The sodium borate is left as micro-crystals of borate salt inside the wood which will not decompose or volatilize (vaporize) like volatile, synthetic residual pesticide poisons. This means the sodium borate will keep providing you broad spectrum protection (permanently) with little impact on our environment or your health. We suggest that you (re) design and construct your home and additions to minimize moisture uptake and retention by wood; use a dehumidifier; remove all branches that overhang or touch your home; correct all earth-wood contact points; repair all cracks and crevices; thoroughly caulk, screen paint and/or seal your home, and sometimes that you replace your porches, piers and stoops with sodium borate treated and sealed lumber. Since 1953 when non-volatile sodium borate was mandated in New Zealand to be used to treat and pretreat lumber and homes and buildings, there has never been any evidence of even one successful attack of wood destroying organisms in New Zealand, no matter what the conditions. Compare this to the failure of toxic and volatile termiticide poisons routinely failing to protect our homes during the same time period and you need go no further with your choice of termiticide - but the poison industry and the regulators ignore little facts like these.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially stated in court that EPA registration (and, therefore, labeled usage) does not assure safety. Current pesticide registration clearly is not designed to protect the public's health; that is why the National Academy of Science (NAS) estimates that 1 out of 7 of us is already significantly impaired by pesticides and other toxic chemicals. The National Cancer Institute studies show children get leukemia 6 - 7 times more often when pesticides are used in or even around their homes, and farmers and pesticide applicators show similar increases in cancer when exposed to these poisons. Drinking water in at least 39 states is already contaminated with these toxins. We clearly are already destroying/poisoning ourselves and the next generations!

The Inspection

A thorough, accurate yearly inspection is the most important part of any wood destroying organism control program and will ensure early detection of infestations and/or reinfestations before serious damage can occur. Before you even begin your inspection, completely read and understand this manual and become knowledgeable in the biology and habits of the various wood destroying organisms so you will know what to look for. Proper termite identification and a knowledge of the species' biology are the most essential elements in termite control. Then carefully and visually inspect all accessible areas, probe and/or sound all accessible structural members and wooden objects inside and outside your home. Be sure you look under all rocks and patio stones for subterranean termites who may be there looking for moisture and decaying organic matter. In Florida and the rest of the South (and when baiting) check every 3 months.

Be sure to write down everything you find, i.e., type of infestations, damages, inaccessible areas, conditions conducive to infestation, construction problem(s), moisture problem(s), etc. and carefully record all of this on graph paper as a permanent record. Written notes, properly recorded and properly filed away are the only things that do not forget. (Check out the forms available on The Best Control II©.)

Remember to save and properly file the results of all of your inspections so that you can compare/monitor the conditions conducive to infestation, damages and other details with each passing year. Remember you should conduct a thorough inspection at least once a year and should continue to visually monitor your home as you clean and conduct normal preventative maintenance on it. Remember to make a graph drawing of your home showing the view from above (a plan) and at least one view from the side (an elevation). This will help you find hidden and/or inaccessible areas you might otherwise overlook inside. Make several copies so you can use a fresh graph each time you inspect your home. If you decide to pay a professional to conduct these inspections for you, tell him in the beginning that whoever you pay to conduct your inspections will not be allowed to perform any treatments. This should ensure a more honest opinion on his part. Sometimes the professional will pound on the wall and then use a stethoscope (for hearing behind walls), drill holes into your wall and insert fiber-optic viewing scopes (for seeing behind walls) and/or bring in termite-detecting dogs (for smelling behind walls), but nothing beats a "live-in" inspector (you) who carefully and faithfully monitors your own home daily!

Remember, even if you find evidence of an active infestation there is no need to panic and have some professional sell you a job today or lose your home tomorrow! While all wood destroying organisms can do some damage, there always is time to properly and thoroughly plan your control program and often there is no need for any poison control, especially volatile poisons.

Your inspection, if done properly, will allow you to decide how you can best control your wood destroying insect infestations, whether you will use exclusion, mechanical alteration, baits, sodium borate, spot or overall applications, traps, heat or cold treatments, biological controls, salt, dehumidifiers, fans, vents, air conditioning, vapor barriers, medications, Peladow®, borax, Safe Solutions, Inc. with Peppermint or various dusts, alternative borate products, sanitation, or a combination of these or other controls.

A key difference between sodium borate (or borax) and traditional synthetic residual chemical termiticides is that rather than treating the soil or fumigating, sodium borate can be injected, sprayed, fogged or brushed directly on/into bare wood. It penetrates into the wood so that more than just the surface is treated, and because sodium borate does not decompose or change with time, true long-term protection is provided. The product is ideal for wood that is not in contact with the ground and not exposed to rain or excessive standing water. Native subterranean termites are killed with only 1,000 ppm of boron in wood. Formosan termites are killed with 2,000 ppm of boron in wood. Dampwood and drywood termites are killed with 1,000 ppm of boron in wood. Where you have a steady, severe plumbing leak or moisture problem, it should be repaired before sodium borate is applied. Moisture is a key factor in the mode of action of sodium borate. The higher the moisture content of the wood, the faster sodium borate (or borax) diffuses into it and the deeper its penetration. In addition to treating the wood you can also treat sawdust, wood pellets, tongue depressors, scraps of wood, (rolls of) corrugated cardboard etc. with 3% or less sodium borate and use them as baits and/or pre-baits. If you get some on glass, quickly remove the residue with soap and hot water.

  1. Vacuum up all termite swarmers. Check all wood with a moisture meter.

  2. Soak all the damp and/or infested and/or exposed (unfinished) wood with 1 - 1½ cups borax (and ½ cup Safe Solutions, Inc. Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint) in 1 gallon of hot water at least 3 times to the point of run-off.

  3. Remove all earth/wood contacts, roots and foam board insulation.

  4. Install and properly maintain dehumidifiers, vents, fans, eaves and downspouts.

  5. Prebait with virgin cardboard wrapped in plastic, but opened at the bottom, moistened with fresh seltzer water that still has its "fizz". Once you have termites in your bait, lightly mist some new cardboard with 3% or less TIM-BOR® or borax or diluted Flagyl®. Shake some termites from the infested station into the treated station and then replace in the ground. Continue to replace with new, treated bait stations as needed. Food-grade DE applied under the slab or on the crawl surface will permanently control termites.

If you still have visible termite activity, &read The Best Control© or The Best Control II© on CD- ROM.


Nontoxic Products Recommended by Steve Tvedten

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