Council hears good and bad News about termite control

Chief Building Inspector Bob Foster told Centre Wellington council on Monday that township residents can now take termite infected debris to Guelph for disposal.

During council’s committee of the whole meeting Foster said the township now has an agreement with the city, and he hopes eventually to also get one that would allow such infected debris to be disposed of at county dump sites as well.

He explained residents seeking to get rid of the debris will have to obtain a permit and receive a certificate in order to use the Guelph facilities, and the township would let officials there know what is coming, how much and when.

Foster said residents would have to pay a tipping fee in Guelph, but that is still much cheaper than having to haul the debris to other sites accepting such waste, like the one near Sarnia.

As for other News on the termite front, hot weather has played some havoc with a bait trial the township is doing with Tim Myles, the termite control officer for Guelph. He has indicated positive results in the city with a trap-treat-release termite eradication program, and Centre Wellington is studying it this summer.

But, said Foster, the heat and lack of moisture has led to interesting results. There are 350 baits that have been placed in Elora and another 150 in Fergus.

Myles introduces zinc borate as an active ingredient in the treatment of trapped termites. They are then released in the area from which they were taken. Test results have showed fewer termites in an area after they had been through the treatment and the hope is to significantly reduce the overall termite population levels.

But, Foster said, none of the baits so far appear to be working because of the hot, dry weather. He said it is likely the bugs have headed for cooler, damper climes by moving underground.

Consequently, Foster said, there has been “no termite activity anywhere.” He added, though, “I don’t want anybody to think they’ve left town.”

He said there will be further tests in September. To date, all the baits have been placed on publicly owned land. The traps are located on township road allowances and park lands.

They consist of a six inch roll of normal corrugated cardboard in a three-inch diameter PCV pipe. The traps contain no pesticides or agents attractive to termites, and are being monitored by Myles and his staff over the summer and fall.

Councillor Kirk McElwain wondered if the traps could be moved closer to homes that are known to contain termites.

Foster said that is possible, but it comes at a cost, because the baits cost money.

He added that another reason for a shortage of termites might be “if we don’t have enough [baits] down.”

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said it is becoming evident that termites are taking a terrible toll on homeowners. She spoke recently with three families that have termites in their homes, and “The cost is astronomical.”

The problem for many homeowners is they are forced to use chemicals to repel the insects instead of killing them. The United States, which deals with the issue regularly, uses chemicals to kill termites, but those chemicals to date are not permitted to be used in Canada.

Councillor Walt Visser wondered if council could approach MP Michael Chong about getting some of those restrictions lifted.

Ross-Zuj supported that and said council needs to do something because the issue is “causing a lot of hardships.”

Foster agreed termites are costly. He said an article in a Toronto Newspaper on the weekend indicated the damage last year from termites in Toronto was $120-million.

But, he said, the work Centre Wellington is doing now – documenting the numbers and locations – is laying the groundwork for future actions.

The monitoring will cost about $9,500 this year and, if all works as planned, that will eventually drastically reduce the populations.