Termite Barriers: Who Broke the Ice?

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Hello and welcome to another week of the TERM Barrier System blog series! Week 6

This week I would like to take a step back in time and write about the origin of termite barriers. The TERM® Barrier System is founded on the concept of using physical and mechanical devices to exclude termites without the use of pesticides, but from where did the idea arise?

termite barriers

In previous blogs, we have talked a lot about integrated pest management (IPM). One pillar of IPM is the use of physical and mechanical devices to control the target organism, such as a termite, in a balanced approach.

Termite particle barrier research originated with Dr. Walter Ebeling in 1957 at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ebeling studied the penetration of subterranean termites through sand and cinder barriers of measured particle sizes. Effective substrates for stopping termites were as follows:

B. 10-16 mesh sand *untamped*

C. 6-16 mesh sand *tamped*

D. 10-16 crush volcanic cinders

termite barriers

Research has continued since the inaugural study by Dr. Ebeling to arrive at many conclusions related to particle size. However, in 2013, Keefer et al. collaborated the expertise of entomologists and engineers to identify specific characteristics that made particle barriers effective against tunneling termites.

Their conclusions were as follows:termite barriers

Particle size combinations of 8, 10, and 12 mesh were most effective.

Particle hardness should be measured & scored as ≥6 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale.

Particle angularity should measure 2700+ as determined by the Aggregate Image Measurement System.

Interstitial space between particles should include 35-45% voids as determined by a displacement test.

 

There are many scientific articles that have been published between the two articles that I have written about today, including, but not limited to:

While the history of termite barrier research focuses primarily on the use of aggregate stone to impede termite tunneling, Polyguard has improved our building materials to function as termite barriers, as well. Membranes traditionally used for waterproofing and vapor barriers have been upgraded by Polyguard as part of the TERM® Barrier System to exclude termites in addition to their normal function. Research on our membranes and sealants began in 2000 and continues to this day as we aim to improve pest exclusion.

Reports of independent research projects completed on TERM® Barrier System products may be found on our website.

TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap

The TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap uses a combination of materials to exclude termites and other pests.

For additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at ckrejci@polyguard.com.

How to Identify Termite Problems

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Welcome to Week 5 of the TERM Barrier System blog!

We have a saying in pest management in the south and southeastern areas of the United States:

“It’s not if you get termites, it’s when!”

As I talk with homeowners, builders, and architects about the importance of including pest solutions from the beginning of the home planning process, I stress that termite problems are a major issue that will eventually need to be addressed. Termiticides, pesticides targeted for termites, are traditionally relied upon as the only form of termite control. However, research shows us that even with optimal application of a termiticide before the structure is built, the protection will not last the life of the structure.

TERM Barrier Sealants

For this reason, it is important to include barriers, like the ones we manufacture as part of the TERM® Barrier System, for long term protection of your home or structure against termites and other pests.

Prevent Termite Problems

Today, I’d like to outline a few signs that can be specific to a termite infestation in your home or building. If you think that you may have termites, please contact a licensed pest management professional. In many cases, your first termite inspection may be free!

Inside the home

  1. Suspected water damage

Suspected Water Damage    Suspected Water Damage

Once termites have entered the home, they can cause expensive damage to the home’s structure before the tenants even know there is a problem. Even without wood framing to consume, termites will consume anything that contains cellulose. This includes cabinets, flooring materials, furniture, and even the paper on the back of sheetrock. Signs of termite damage inside the home may initially appear to be water damage in the form of buckling, engorged floors or ceilings. This is due to termites consuming cellulose and subsequent weakening of the building materials. Termites will eat a piece of wood all the way up to the paint layer, leaving it to collapse if touched. Often, your fingers are great tools for “feeling out” weakening in the walls, floors, or furniture.

 

  1. Termite Droppings

Termite Droppings

Drywood termites leave fecal pellets, or frass, behind wherever they go and this is often a sign of an infestation. Drywood termite frass resembles small pellets, are around 1/25” long, and have elongated ridges. Fun fact: The ridges in termite fecal pellets are unique and a biological adaption developed by the termite to retain as much moisture as possible for nutrition. Be careful! Drywood termite pellets are often mistaken for sawdust and cleaned up without a thought. However, fecal pellets can be a sign of a full-blown drywood termite infestation.

 

  1. Termite Wings

Termite Wings

When termites swarm, the alates leave an existing colony, fly to a new location, and create a new colony. Alates are a particular life stage of male and female reproductive termites. Termites swarm once or several times a year, depending on species and environmental conditions, but in the south, we can always count on termites swarming around Mother’s Day. How nice, right?

When alate termites get to where they are going, they will lose their wings. Signs of a new infestation in the home can be seen when termite wings, which resemble transparent fish scales, are found near windows and doors.

Termite Wings 

Outside the home

  1. Mud tubes

Subterranean termite mud tubes are the most telling sign of a termite infestation in and around the home or structure. Mud tubes will be located on the surface of the vertical foundation and run from the soil in to the home. For a structure built with a crawl space, it is important to inspect the interior of the foundation wall, as well. Mud tubes are essential for subterranean termites, as they must maintain contact with the ground. These tubes allow the termites to regulate the temperature and relative humidity as they travel to and from the colony. Mud tubes can be disrupted by simply using a wire brush to clean the surface of the foundation, and then contacting a pest management professional for treatment options.

Finally, it is important to note that mud tubes are common both inside and outside the home.

Termite Mud Tubes

There are additional ways in which a pest management professional may locate a termite infestation, but these are the easiest to observe by home and property owners. While termiticide pretreatments and remediations are excellent forms of control, Integrated Pest Management is key to long-term termite management. Physical barriers like the ones we have developed in the TERM® Barrier System can provide long-term protection to the home building materials against termites and other pests.

For additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at ckrejci@polyguard.com.

Noah's Ark Comic

4 Steps You Can Take to Defend Zika

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Welcome to Week 4 of the TERM Barrier System blog series! This week we will be stepping outside of our normal realm of termite management to look at a topic many of you may be worried about this time of year:  Zika Virus. Read on for 4 ways to defend Zika!

Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. Specifically, Ae. aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, and Ae. albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito. Infection can occur many ways, but the most common are:

Through mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes are often known to bite during dawn and dusk. However, the species of mosquitoes that transmit Zika have been known to bite during the day. Insect vectors transmit the pathogen by feeding on an infected person then subsequently feeding on a different person, during which infection occurs.

From mother to child

A pregnant woman may pass the Zika virus to her child in utero which can cause significant abnormalities. According to the CDC, there have been no reported cases to date of Zika being transmitted through breastfeeding.

Through sex

An infected person may transmit Zika virus to their partner though sex. Transmission can occur before symptoms start or after symptoms cease.

 

Protect Your Family from Zika

 

 

 

As entomologists, we extensively study the disease cycle to control transmission. The disease cycle contains three components: the host, the vector, and the pathogen. In the case of Zika virus, a human is the host, Zika is the pathogen, and the mosquito is the vector. It takes all of these components to accelerate the virus.

Defend Zika

To end the disease cycle, we can remove just one of those components and end the disease. To do this, entomologists use integrated pest management to effectively control the vector: the mosquito.

Let’s take a look at a few common backyard mosquito breeding locations.

Mosquitoes must have water to complete their life cycle, as the eggs are laid in water and complete their immature stages there. There are many sources of water in your backyard, some of which you may not have realized were there. Simply maintaining fresh water sources and emptying standing water containers can cut the population of insects down drastically.

 

Common Backyard Mosquito Sources

 

In addition to sanitation of water around your home, there are several steps you can take to prevent mosquitoes from biting. These are easily remembered as the 4 D’s of Mosquito Protection.

  1. Dusk & Dawn

Reduced exposure to mosquitoes is key in defending yourself. As mentioned above, mosquitoes are known to feed at all times of the day, but dawn and dusk hours are peak times for mosquito feeding.

  1. Dress

Proper clothing can help prevent mosquitoes from biting you. Wear light-colored and loose-fitting attire.

  1. Defend

Wear repellant! EPA-approved products containing DEET and other active ingredients have shown tremendous efficacy in keeping mosquitoes away.

  1. Drain

Standing water is required for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. If you as a homeowner remove any source of stagnant water, you can cut your mosquito population down without ever having to spray a pesticide.

 

mosquito protection

 

As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes will begin to get more numerous. Take a look back at these tips throughout the season to help you and your family make it through the summer and fall months.

For more information or questions, please contact Dr. Cassie Krejci at ckrejci@polyguard.com. Any statement included is intended to be informational and should not be mistaken for medical advice.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

Welcome to week 3 of the TERM® Barrier System blog series! In other posts on our website and social media accounts, you have seen the words integrated pest management, or IPM, many times. I’m taking the opportunity this week to explain why this concept is extremely important to pest management.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecological approach to the control of target pests in which all available necessary control techniques are systematically consolidated into a unified program. The goal of an IPM program is to manage pest populations while avoiding economic damage and minimizing adverse side effects.

A great IPM program implies understanding of:

Integrated Pest Management

Ecosystem • Communities • Niche • Insects

  

So, why are IPM programs important?

Urban environments, such as where we suffer the most economic damage from termites, are characterized by several factors:

  1. They are dominated by humans & companion animals
  2. They are shared by more than just humans & pets: aesthetic trees & shrubs, businesses with pets and plants, and wild animals.
  3. Micro-climates, or subsets of the environment, have higher humidity and temperatures.
  4. Speaking of climate, indoor climates are more abundant, which make great, stable places for insect growth.

Integrated pest management programs are ongoing – they never truly end. Once the steps, described below, are completed, it’s important to continue monitoring for a pest population and use sanitation or barriers to keep the pests from returning.

Steps of IPM Programs

1. Monitor pest populations

This is an important first step – identify the target organism! Proper identification of the insect is critical in management.

2. Develop a management plan

This includes many different tactics – Think IPM pyramid!

Integrated Pest Management Pyramid 

  1. Cultural & Sanitation Methods
    This tactic suppresses pest problems by restricting their requisites for life such as water, food, and shelter. For example, removing sources of standing water from a yard can reduce the population of mosquitos.
  2. Physical & Mechanical Methods
    These methods prevent pest access to an area or host, or, if the pests are already present, removing them with a device. The TERM® Barrier Systems are physical and mechanical barriers to termites and other pests, as they physically restrict access without the use of pesticides.
  3. Biological Methods
    This tactic uses predators and parasites of target pests to suppress pest populations. There are several ways this control method can be integrated, including:
    – introduction of a new biological control species specific to pests, or,
    – purchasing and releasing more naturally occurring biological control organisms, or,
    – preservation of naturally occurring biocontrol organisms.
  4. Chemical Methods
    This is the most traditional for of pest control, and often the first sought: Pesticides. However, proceed with care, as chemicals are the most hazardous and most expensive form of control.

3. Implement plan

Put it to work!

4. Evaluate & Re-implement plan

It is important to remember to evaluate the results and modify if needed. Ask yourself,

– Did your IPM program have the desired effect?
– Was the pest prevented or managed to your satisfaction?
– Were there any unintended side effects?
– What will you change in the future?

 

The IPM pyramid, as shown above, reflects the control tactics in a recommended balance of use. Similar to fats & sugars on a food pyramid, pesticides are listed at the top. This is because, while they should be a part of the IPM program, pesticides should be used only as needed. This is because they can be dangerous when over- or misused. Pesticides also happen to be the most expensive form of control.

Sanitation and cultural controls are located at the bottom of the IPM pyramid because they are often the most effective, least effective, and least hazardous to implement.

I could teach an entire semester of class about integrated pest management (some people do!), but there are a few things to remember:

  • IPM is the way of the future.
  • IPM will work in solving problems with pest populations- just follow the steps outlined above!
  • Use the less expensive and safer tactics for control before moving up the pyramid.

We work each day to teach IPM to architects, home designers, and pest management professionals. Think of the TERM® Team as the bridge between architects and pest management professionals, with homeowners benefitting! The TERM® Barrier System, when integrated in to the building envelope acts as a physical/mechanical barrier to termites and other pests.

TERM Barrier System TERM Barrier Application

 

For additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at ckrejci@polyguard.com.

What is GreenPro & How TERM® Can Help

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

GreenPro GreenPro Certifiedmay be a program you have yet to hear about, but my hope is that as a pest management professional, you are interested!

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers a green pest control certification called GreenPro. GreenPro is the world’s largest and most credible green certification program for pest management professionals and recognizes companies within the pest management industry that are committed to providing commercial and residential customers with reduced risk, comprehensive, and effective pest control services.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a practice that employs the use of all available techniques to control a target pest. This is a common sense approach to treating and controlling pests that we, as pest management professionals, are taught repeatedly as we learn the trade. Tactics for a sound IPM program include inspection, identification of target organisms and the conducive conditions that allow the populations to grow, and solutions that include pesticides, biological control organisms, physical/mechanical barriers, and sanitation practices. A follow up and re-evaluation of the program is the final step and is often one of the most important, as target organisms and conducive conditions change over time.

When dealing with urban pests, such as termites and ants, pesticides have shown incredible efficacy. However, when searching for additional forms of control to build an IPM program for a customer, pest management professionals can feel limited.

TERM® Barrier System is your solution.

Four primary products make up the TERM® Barrier system: Membrane, Sealant, Particle Barrier and MicroMesh. We manufacture everything in Ennis, Texas, and each of these products can be customized each of your unique customers. These products are more than just mechanical barriers – they are also moisture/vapor barriers and designed for areas that may have never had insect exclusion opportunities.

For example, the TERM® All-Pest Bath Trap Barrier utilizes all four products to keep termites, ants, scorpions, and other pests from entering the home through bath traps and other foundation leave-out areas. The TERM® Sealant is great for sealing plumbing penetrations on the slab, which can often become primary entry points for pests over time. Additionally, TERM® products have been combined to create solutions for well house structures, which can often be tricky structures to treat with chemical.

The best part about the TERM® Barrier System? It is completely pesticide free. You, as a pest control professional, may use as much as is needed to complement your IPM program.

The TERM® Barrier System has recently been certified as a GreenPro partner. We worked with NPMA’s QualityPro certification program to design the TERM® Barrier System installation protocol to be in compliance with GreenPro standards. To earn this credential, integrate the TERM® Barrier System into your service and contact NPMA to finalize your GreenPro service certification.

For additional information on the TERM® Barrier System products, please feel free to email me at ckrejci@polyguard.com. Next week, we will take a closer look at integrated pest management and talk about why it’s important.

 

An Introduction to the TERM® Barrier System

Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.

TERM Sustainable Pest BarriersThis week we are kicking off a new adventure in the TERM division by publishing a blog! We aim to provide more information to our customers about not just our company and products, but also interesting details about pests and insect exclusion.

I’d like to start this series by talking a little bit about our company.

Polyguard Products, Inc. was founded in 1953 in Oklahoma by Robert Nee and Frank McNulty. Polyguard moved to Ennis, Texas in 1978. John (current CEO) and Kathy Muncaster purchased Polyguard in 1986. In 1987, John and Kathy decided to allow the employees to directly benefit from their hard work by offering all of the employees an opportunity to be part of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In December 2014, the company became 100% ESOP owned. Wow!

Polyguard Produts

Polyguard Products specializes in materials that protect surfaces and structures from moisture, water and other undesired substances. Polyguard is currently operating under three core divisions with a number of growing divisions under the Polyguard umbrella.

Think of Polyguard as an innovator and manufacturer of barriers – not just barriers against moisture and corrosion, but against contaminants like radioactive radon gas and methane.

The TERM Barrier Systems Division of Polyguard Products specializes in developing sustainable pest barriers, without the use of pesticides. TERM means Termites, Energy, Radon & Moisture prevention in one building envelope solution.

Consider this……

Good engineering minimizes building movement, but structures are not engineered to eliminate the miniscule openings created by construction and nature.

Why not upgrade the building envelope to seal off almost all pest entry points and accommodate the small movements of the building components?

Polyguard has manufactured building envelope materials for sealing out water, and for sealing in energy, since 1970.  Now, we are upgrading our building envelope materials to exclude pests using three basic barrier materials.

TERM Barrier SystemsTERM Barrier SystemsThe concept of building to exclude pests starts with TERM Sealant Barrier. Not only will the TERM® Sealant Barrier serve as the waterproofing and air barrier, but testing at multiple universities have shown that it will also protect against the intrusion of termites. TERM® Sealant Barrier is elastomeric and can accommodate building movements while maintaining the barrier. There are eleven products in the TERM® Barrier System that incorporate sealant, including the TERM Membrane Barriers.

 

TERM MicromeshTERM Micromesh screens are used in areas of the structure where venting and draining is necessary. Screens have been used worldwide for more than 25 years to exclude termites. Polyguard manufactures screens that are specifically sized to block, not only termites, but many other pests, as well.

 

The TERM Particle Barrier is made up of a specifically-sized aggregate stone. When TERM Particle Barrierapplied to the perimeter of a structure’s foundation and in the bath trap areas, termites are physically blocked from tunneling to the structure. TERM® Particle Barrier is not a new concept, as particle barriers have been used Australia, Hawaii, and other parts of the world for many years. However, Polyguard has developed a product that is available and effective in the United States against subterranean termites. By working with engineers and entomologists, Polyguard has created a particle barrier product of specific sizes, stone angularities, and packed interstitial space.

 

The best part? All of TERM’s products are free of pesticides!

This means that they are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as devices. The TERM® Barrier System is the first non-pesticide overall pest protection for new construction and has options as a non-pesticide termite treatment for existing construction.

I hope this introduction has given you a more in-depth look at what we do in Ennis, Texas. We have a fabulous team that goes above and beyond to complete projects.

Jill Heidorf

Jill Heidorf is our Sales Manager. Located in McKinney, Texas, and may be reached at jheidorf@polyguard.com.

Holly Beard

Holly Beard is our Technical Sales Associate located in Orlando, Florida. She may be reached at hbeard@polyguard.com.

Cassie Krejci

Of course, my name is Cassie Krejci, in College Station, Texas, and I can be reached at ckrejci@polyguard.com.

Thanks for reading this week and we look forward to creating bi-monthly posts!

TERM® Barrier Systems Become GreenPro Partner

ENNIS, TX – TERM Barrier Systems by Polyguard Products Inc. is now a GreenPro Partner.

The National Pest Management Association’s GreenPro program is the world’s largest and most credible green certification program for pest management professionals. GreenPro recognizes companies within the pest management industry that are committed to providing commercial and residential customers with reduced risk, comprehensive, and effective pest control services.

The GreenPro Partner designation allows the TERM Barrier System to be used as a tool by builders, architects, and GreenPro PartnerQualityPro certified Pest Management Professionals in a pest prevention strategy. For more information on the TERM Barrier System and ways in which it may be integrated into a GreenPro program, please visit www.polyguardbarriers.com.

Founded in 1953, Polyguard produces materials to protect buildings from moisture, corrosion, and energy leaks. Polyguard’s TERM Barriers, the latest innovation, means that buildings can have insect exclusion added to the moisture, corrosion, and energy leak protection. Polyguard is 100% employee owned, and has generated 24 successive years of sales increases since 1992. [Read More...]

Plastics help keep termites out of the New American Home

Plastics help keep termites out of the New American Home

TERM Barrier keeps termited out of the New American HomeOrlando, Fla. - Walk inside the New American Home (TNAH) 2017 and a couple steps beyond the entry area you find yourself outside again...

Polyguard CEO John Muncaster said the wrap, which was developed with entomologists at Texas A&M University, has a thick polyethylene backing to keep bugs, particularly termites, at bay. The top layer is made of a polypropylene fabric so concrete can bond with the fibers if it’s used as a barrier for the underslab, which is a common entry point for subterranean termites. A proprietary sealant is used to hold the plastic fiber and film together.

“This has been tested long term in the lab and in the field and it resists termites,” Muncaster said. “We don’t why. We don’t know everything about what makes them tick.”

The combination of the sealant and two plastics simply can’t be penetrated by voracious-eating termites. The three materials seem to have sound-deadening qualities for the insects, and that could be factor, Muncaster said, or it could be related to the barrier’s odor and moisture control.

“We’re putting the house in a sealant bag, really,” he said. “Not only the bottom, where so many insects come in, but up the walls at the seams there can be openings. Our goal is to seal all gaps wherever possible. You can almost keep all insects out.”

In new construction, if incorporated into the design stage, the Term system can seal plumbing openings, bath traps, base flashing, window flashing, vent holes, flooring underlayment and joints in addition to foundation and underslab barriers. No system can keep out every bug, but this one comes close, Muncaster said.

In remodeled houses, the Term system can protect sill plates, seam and window flashing, underlayments for replaced floors, and more if it’s a major renovation.

“We think it has the potential to take sustainable construction up another level and help people live better and more comfortably,” Muncaster said, noting that water and energy conservation have long been goals of green builders. “We’ve got something new. I don’t think anybody in America has ever taken a systems look at construction to exclude insects and other pests. That’s what we’re doing.”

Polyguard’s barrier system also was used at the 4,631-square-foot the New American Remodeled Home (TNARH), which NAHB did this year for the first time since 2007. It’s in the same gated community. [read more...]

Polyguard Records 24th Consecutive Year of Sales Growth

ENNIS, TX – Polyguard Products Inc. announced that 2016 will mark its 24th consecutive year of top line sales growth for the company.

“Polyguard’s 24-year string of top line sales growth increases was certainly not a goal,” CEO John Muncaster said. “It started in 1992, and at that point Polyguard was just trying to survive the early 1990s recession and the fire which has destroyed our plant, lab, and offices two years before.”

“We don’t know of any firm who can match this 24-year string of consecutive sales growth. As to ‘why’, the answer is clear to us. Polyguard’s tagline is ‘innovation based…. employee owned…. expect more’. Our constant stream of innovative products, and our ‘above and beyond’ employee owners, are the reasons for the constant growth.”

Muncaster said Polyguard is looking forward to hitting a landmark by increasing sales yet again in 2017.

“A string of increases in sales growth may not have been a Polyguard goal in 1992, but it is a goal in 2017, because a 2017 increase will give us a full quarter century of consecutive sales growth.”

Founded in 1953, Polyguard Products specializes in products which protect surfaces and structures from moisture, water, or other undesired substances. Polyguard is an industry leader in the production of self-adhesive protective coatings for engineering and construction. [Read More…]

[Read about us in World Pipelines Magazine Special Report]

Polyguard Entomologist Elected to PCO Board

ENNIS, TX – cassie-krejciCassie Krejci, Ph.D., a technical sales and research associate for Polyguard Products’ TERM Barrier Division was elected to the Pi Chi Omega Board of Directors during the National Pest Management Association’s annual Pest World Expo.

Pi Chi Omega is a national fraternity for pest control professionals, including entomologists, corporate technical directors, researchers and vertebrate pest specialists, among others. The fraternity was initiated in 1950 and is comprised of nearly 350 members, representing 38 states and four foreign countries.

“I learned about Pi Chi Omega during my time as a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University,” Krejci said. “My advisor, Dr. Roger Gold, urged me to apply for the fraternity’s annual scholarship. During college, I was active in Texas A&M student entomology club, as well as the Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America.”

A goal of Pi Chi Omega is attracting students and young professionals to its membership.

“As a member of the Pi Chi Omega Board of Directors, I aim to reach to groups we may not have reached in the past to drive our purpose of pest industry education,” she said. [read more…]