Did Termidor ruin the industry and can it survive it’s 10th anniversary?

For those of you that have been in the termite industry for 15 years or more this may be a subject with which you’ve wrestled with. You see back then a ‘spot treatment’ for subterranean termites or even drywoods for that matter were reserved for complaint calls. Swarmers would pop out of a corner in the basement or from a bay window and the techs would only treat that area rather than doing another full blown job. You wouldn’t think of doing just this small an area for the original treatment because it wouldn’t even take the termites 24 hours to get around your chemical and start munching away on another part of the house. Termite techs used the term full drill to indicate they had slabs, block and veneers that all had to be drilled out in order to put their chemical shields in place. I hated full drill jobs especially basements because not only were you a termite tech, you were also a professional furniture mover. Ugh!

Termidor to the rescue

Lo and behold the industry at this time was hot on the trail of some new approaches to termite work which included improved bait systems and a innocently named new termiticide called Termidor. From my vantage point it didn’t really catch on at first, Sentricon was all the rage and anybody who didn’t use this sophisticated system just wasn’t a true pro. Small companies like mine were shut out because I didn’t have a computer in those days and so I had to endure claims of unprofessionalism and stone aged service from advertising and competitors sales people. One such company that dominates this state (or so they claim) really got on the bandwagon and brow beat all their customers into switching from liquid service to baits. It wasn’t to long though that the unrealized benefits of Termidor soon caught on like wild fire. Companies that had customers with year after year swarmers and problems suddenly realized they just went through a swarm season and didn’t hear from that client once they applied this new found product. Termidor was tackling every tough job and new customers rarely had the unpleasant retreat. Homes with construction deficiencies were no longer a big worry for the termite manager because he only needed a small fraction of the termites to get into the mix and the entire colony would die. Baits were so much work compared to Termidor that soon everybody seemed to be dropping that service in favor of the new kid in town. That brow beating giant also rolled over and their poor customer base had to once again pay up to switch to what this one step behind leader wanted to do. I see them on TV all the time with theirs ads as if they are the one and only Termidor provider and were with them the whole time. Tsk Tsk.

Unintended consequences

Recently pest professionals everywhere have been asking themselves, “Where are the swarms?” The bread and butter of the pest industry just seemed to vanish and only a few brave souls would dare whisper at any ceu meeting, “Did Termidor kill all the termites?” I even participated in two phone interviews for major pest control magazines just this year where the subject was brought up and the voice on the phone confirmed,”that’s what everybody’s asking.” Now before you think I’m launching into a right wing conspiracy theory (cause we know the ‘left’ would never do such a thing) the eastern seaboard has been in quite a long drought and with the lack of precious moisture it stands to reason that the termites might just be holding back. I do also believe that Termidor has put a real whack job on them however and I have never seen any product wipe out so many infestations with so little product in my 25 years.

That said, there is another problem that was at least indirectly created with Termidor. Remember the full drill? Nobody is doing them anymore! Now in one respect this is a Godsend that you can only truly appreciate on a hot 99 degree day. The work of a standard termite job is immense so not having to go through all of that and still get the results is phenomenal. I do wonder however if we’ve gone to far? Some companies have scaled back to just drilling abutting slabs, trenching the soil and calling it good. Others have sold their drills on Ebay and are soil treating only and to boot are offering a one million dollar repair guarantee. I met a termite tech at a convenient store the other day who has never drilled anything, not one single hole. I’m all for technology and I’m happy to know that these companies at least offer the repair contracts but are we depending too much on this chemical now?

The last days of Termidor?

I think Termidor has cemented its place in the industry & I’d be surprised to see it go but there is trouble on the horizon. Not from environmentalists (for now) but from the competition and generics that soon will flood the market using the Termidor recipe. It seems that patents are only good for 10 years which I guess on the surface sounds fine but once the time runs out it opens the doors for all sorts of companies to put out their own versions using basically the same stuff. We’ll have Termidor type products coming at us from all angles and more than likely their biggest draw for pest company owners will be the lowered costs. There’ll be free samples and trade show booths, new features like on line home registration for warranties–oh wait Termidor did that– claims of efficacy and lower volumes,–did that too– rebates and all sorts of clever things to see who’ll be next to ride the Termidor wave.It may be that Termidor itself may even come down in price trying to fight off the on coming invaders and I’m sure the Termidor exec’s haven’t been idle in the last year or two knowing this deadline was looming.

I sort of feel sorry for this multi billion dollar company who gave us this product. It must have cost them a bundle just to get it to us with R&D costs and governmental hoops and then on top of it supply everyone with free brochures, literature, advertising copy and commercials that we could put our logos on. They have gone above and beyond with public awareness campaigns and I just love their TV spot with the ‘stud family.’ They even advertise on professional hockey ice which normally is reserved for beer ads or the local emergency dental clinic. But rules are rules and so the anniversary is coming and who knows how it will all play out, one things for sure, they will have to step up their game. I guess they can always depend on the big brow beater company down here in Florida for their steadfast and unwavering commitment , or can they?

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • It will be interesting to see how it plays out, ever since I bought this company we have used Termidor. We really havn’t used the baiting systems, out here in Arizona I think its to hot and not enough water. I have switched to promoting Transport Termiticide, I get less call backs since it has a repellent and non-repellent mixed together. But we will wait and see what happens when termidor comes off patent.

  • It will be interesting to see how it plays out, ever since I bought this company we have used Termidor. We really havn’t used the baiting systems, out here in Arizona I think its to hot and not enough water. I have switched to promoting Transport Termiticide, I get less call backs since it has a repellent and non-repellent mixed together. But we will wait and see what happens when termidor comes off patent.

  • Keith,
    I have heard of Transport, but I have never used it. How does a repellent and non-repellent work together? I would think that in general terms that they would cancel each other out. You want the insect to go through the non repellent barrier to pick up the A.I, but doesn’t the repellent keep them away? Doc, this sounds like a good subject for a blog!

    Thank-you,
    Eric Kroon

  • Keith,
    I have heard of Transport, but I have never used it. How does a repellent and non-repellent work together? I would think that in general terms that they would cancel each other out. You want the insect to go through the non repellent barrier to pick up the A.I, but doesn’t the repellent keep them away? Doc, this sounds like a good subject for a blog!

    Thank-you,
    Eric Kroon

  • The Bug Doctor

    Eric,
    Excellent point and that slipped right by me.

    It could be a great article– & my title would be- “A paradox wrapped up in a conundrum eaten by a termite.”

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Eric,
    Excellent point and that slipped right by me.

    It could be a great article– & my title would be- “A paradox wrapped up in a conundrum eaten by a termite.”

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

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  • Phoebus

    The patent on Fipronil (Termidor) was filed August 1990, and expired August 2010 for a 20 year duration, not 10. Though I think Termidor has been available in Australia for a lot less than 20 years. It’s 2012 already so where are all the generics? Word on the street is that a couple generic brands will be available later this year.

  • BASF has won some litigation battles to keep these at bay so far. Who knows how long it will last. 

  • Taurus SC is already available and survived the law suit from BASF (Termidor, manufacturer) However: it is not labeled for a perimeter treatment (Defined Treatment) as is Termidor, but is just as good on ants. Not all that much cheaper though. Mike Dukes http://TermiteMD.com

  • Actually there up to lawsuit #3 since writing this…I wouldn’t count BASF out just yet….I did a little poll on FB and there weren’t that many takers on Taurus

    Thanks for your comment