For years, I have been recommending Termidor as a good termiticide to use for subterranean termites.

It was the least-toxic product available, and it was very effective. Now, there is a new termiticide available that is absolutely safe to use. This termiticide, Altriset is one that the EPA considers "reduced-risk", which means it doesn't even have to have a signal word. Almost all pesticides have signal words, either "caution," "warning" or "danger." "Caution" is a low-toxic pesticide, and the ones generally available in stores for the public. "Warning" is more highly toxic and can only be applied by pest control professionals. "Danger" is a very toxic pesticide and rarely used except in one case, household fumigation. Sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane) which is used to fumigate homes for termites has a "Danger" label

Altriset provides very good control for subterranean ter-mites without harming humans or pets or the environment. The active ingredient is Chlorantraniliprole (try saying that three times real fast). Altriset will eliminate termites in less than three months and will protect your home or business for more than five years when used in accordance with the label. Once termites come into contact with Altriset, their ability to feed on wood is halted within hours, resulting in death. The product is slowly passed throughout the colony by contact, causing total colony elimination. Its toxicological profile is very interesting: It targets a very specific part of the termite's muscles. This limits its effects on non-target animals, including other insects, pets and humans. Altriset is the first termiticide product featuring an active ingredient from the anthraniic diamide class of chemistry. This class was inspired by research into the insecticidal properties of a natural substance found in the bark of trees and shrubs from tropical America.

The MSD has no first aid requirements for inhalation, skin contact or ingestion. Even boric acid, which many consider "safe," has first aid steps that need to be taken for certain exposures.

There are only a very few companies using this product now, but I am sure it will be widely used in the near future. I only know of one company in New Mexico that uses it. I am sure others will pick it up fairly quickly.

For years, we have used all sorts of toxic pesticides to control many pests that we didn't like. In most cases, the pesticides were far more dangerous than the pests. Over time, we have found many non-toxic and least-toxic products to control most pests, and I have written about them. Until now, termites were one of the few pests left that required a toxic pesticide. That is no longer the case. Now, we can even control the termites that are eating our home safely and effectively and without impacting the environment. I believe Altriset will be around for a very long time.

If you are building a home and want to treat the soil without using pesticides you can do it with natural products or you can have a professional do it for you with Altriset. If you do it yourself, you should apply a generous amount of food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on the ground before the vapor barrier is put down. Put a lot around the outside of the footing and the inside where the expansion joints will be. Also around any pipes that will penetrate the soil. Termite will not travel through soil treated with DE.

If you have a crawl space under your home you can treat the inside foundation wall with DE, clove oil, cinnamon oil, urea, borax or salt. Termites will avoid all of those products. They may live in the soil but they won't climb the foundation to get to the wooden subfloor. Make sure you treat around any pillars as well. Then treat all the exposed wood under the house with a sodium borate (TimBor or BoraCare). That will not only protect the subfloor from termites but will also prevent wood-boring beetles from infesting the wood.

Finally, get a power duster and blow several pounds of DE under the house to cover the bare soil. This will prevent termites from building tubes out of the ground and into the wood. It will also control other pest arthropods such as cockroaches, silverfish, crickets, scorpions, centipedes and various hunting spiders.

(Richard "Bugman" Fagerlund is a pest management consultant. His column runs every other week. He can be reached at 385-2820 or richardfagerlund@yahoo.com.)