Premise

Premise is a generic termiticide designed by Bayer that comes in several different delivery mechanisms. They all work in very different ways and have different purposes:

Premise Granules - This is a common "do-it-yourself" tool against termites. Basically, it's a little bottle of balls of pesticide clumped into granules that you sprinkle onto your lawn.

You put water onto them, and the pesticide seeps into your lawn and down into the tunnels where the termites are crawling around. As they go through it, they die.

This is a great treatment for houses that need instant action, but I wouldn't depend on it alone to kill off an established colony.
 

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Premise Foam - This is another way of applying the same pesticide. It's a foam pesticide that you can pump into cracks in your foundation or into wall cavities. This one is another great way to stop damage in the short term - if you've got a vulnerable area that is suffering from structural damage, you can get some immediate help.

Premise Perimeter Treatment - This is a liquid soil treatment that is installed around your house. This involves making small trenches around the outside near the foundation, as well as drilling small holes through the concrete near any cracks or pipes. Unlike many other soil treatments, it's not designed to repel termites. It just kills them when they try to go through it like a normal pesticide.

The key ingredient in Premise is called imidacloprid. It damages the nervous systems of insects and is "selectively toxic" - it works on a part of the nervous system that is not as abundant in mammals and won't cause the same lethal effects. It would cause health problems if you got a high enough dose, but basically the only way to do that is to pick up a jug of the liquid form and start drinking. Imidacloprid is part of many flea control products that are applied directly to the skin of pets, so ingesting it is the main thing to avoid. It stays in the soil for several months, but is considered to have a low risk of groundwater contamination.

Sources and Useful Links:

http://www.termite.com/premise.html

http://www.flaes.org/pdf/Imidacloprid_FAQ03-03-03.pdf

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