Preventive Pest Control and Its Fight Against Formosan Termites

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Jeremy  Logsdon doing a pod cast

What started as a summer job turned into a career and a passion for Jeremy Logsdon, owner of Preventive Pest Control in Houston, Texas.

“I thought it was just a job,” Logsdon said. “Now, we’re going on 23 years.”

From the beginning, Logsdon and his team take great pride in being a “people business,” with customer satisfaction as a top priority. Logsdon has assembled a team of pest professionals, ready to tackle a myriad of pests in about any situation.

Formosan termites’ invasion of the Houston area would put the Preventive Pest Control team’s skills to the test.

Formosan Termites Take Houston

The Port of Houston is the largest port by tonnage in the country, with over 22,000 ship movements and 100,000 vessel movements (barges and tugs) each year. In 2022, Port Houston moved historic cargo volumes and a record high of 3.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units.

In 1956, Formosan termites stowed away on some of that cargo. Since then, Formosan termites have been detected in 31 counties in Texas, with more being added each year.

This posed a new challenge for Jeremy and his team.

“I think about my first 12 years doing termite work, I just never ran into a Formosan issue,” Logsdon said. “And then about eight years ago or so, we started seeing some. Then a few more, then a few more. I wish I would have mapped them because each year you could see the migration of them venturing farther inland.”

Formosan termite workers are difficult to distinguish from other termite species, but Formosan termite soldiers have tear-dropped or egg-shaped heads compared with the more rectangular heads of subterranean termites. Winged Formosan termites are yellowish-brown and around a half inch in length. They swarm at night in late May and early June and are attracted to lights. They have dense hair on their transparent wings and can also be distinguished by identifying features like veins in the wings.

But it’s not the wings or the head shape that makes Formosan termites a formidable foe. It’s the sheer number of creepy crawlies in their colonies.

On average, Eastern subterranean termites have about 250,000 termites per colony. Formosan termites can have between four and 10 times that amount per colony.

With over 1 million to nearly 7 million Formosan termites per colony, liquid barriers would catch some of them, but Logsdon said they found that the rest of the termites could crawl right under the barrier and into a structure.1

Calculations from the latest feeding studies indicate that a colony of 3 million termites can consume about a foot of pine 2"x4" in about two days. Therefore, an established, mature colony of Formosan termites may cause severe structural damage to a home in as short a time as six months.

“You’re dealing with just a volume of termites that can just overrun and overtake a structure once they get in,” Logsdon said. “So, each individual termite doesn’t necessarily cause more damage, you’re just dealing with up to 10 times more insects. That’s why they can just splinter a home or strip a shed.”

Unlike Eastern subterranean termites, Formosan termites don’t just come up from the soil, they form aerial cartons. These are started by swarming reproductive termites when they fly from their original colony and land on a structure seeking out a sliver of an opening and a bit of moisture to establish an aerial carton nest that has no ground contact.

With a liquid barrier in the ground around the structure the Formosan termites have flown into, the new colony is effectively trapped inside. With a 24/7 all-they-can-eat buffet.

“We just had to have a better option to deal with Formosan termites. I wanted to find a way that I’d feel comfortable treating my own home with,” Logsdon said.

That’s where the Sentricon® system came in.

Why Switch to Sentricon?

Logsdon can recall one specific infestation that changed the termite control game for him and his technicians.

It was a home in a heavily infested Formosan termite area during a time when the species was still new to him and his technicians. Logsdon said his team was using liquid termiticide and couldn’t access underneath the home’s deck. Typical protocol is to drill a small hole to get product where it needed to be. Unfortunately, the customer declined drilling to get access to the area, which left a funnel for Formosan termites to crawl right through.

“After continuing termite sightings at the home, we looked under the deck and there it was. Five fat Formosan termite mud tubes, only under the deck where we didn’t treat,” Logsdon said. “From that point on, I knew we had to figure this out. I wasn’t going to do another termite job until I felt comfortable.”

Logsdon wasted no time getting to the bottom of a standalone solution for Formosan termites. He flew in university research professionals and implemented new protocols, but something still didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right until he met with researchers from Texas A&M.

“During our time with the guys at A&M, they mentioned 'If our liquid fails, we just use Sentricon because that never fails’,” Logsdon said.

The switch flipped and Logsdon knew what he had to do. He reached out to the territory manager for Sentricon in his area and his standalone journey began.

“Right away we started seeing how Sentricon worked, and we went exclusively to the Sentricon system,” he said.

What Made Sentricon Stand Alone?

Not only does the Sentricon system have in-ground bait stations, but it also has Recruit® AG termite bait, which can be applied directly over above-ground mud tubes.

“I would say one of the biggest tools that we use is the above-ground stations,” Logsdon said. “Customers will be so flustered and anxious because they see these termites coming through the wall, so sometimes my inspectors will get the customer signed up, and then they’ll just get an AG started on the spot.”

Recruit AG termite bait brings the power of the Sentricon® system above-ground and hits termites where they’re hitting your home hardest — decks, attics, crawl spaces, kitchens, anywhere. It allows Certified Sentricon Specialists® to start the elimination clock as soon as possible.

Sentricon not only gave Preventive Pest Control a new toolbox to tackle Formosan termites, but it also provided business-boosting benefits for Logsdon and his company as well. He noted that after switching exclusively to the Sentricon system, customer retention rates went up.

“It seemed like our customers had better peace of mind paying for that renewal, because they could physically see the stations,” he said. “With that retention, it just brought a better revenue stream year after year. I feel like that once we saw it working like it did, we were able to just sell it because we really believe that it works as well as we claim that it does.”

1 Smith, E., and R. C. Whitman. 2007. NPMA Field Guide to Structural Pests, 2nd ed. National Pest Management Association, Inc., Fairfax, VA.

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