Termite is the oldest insect on earth, that feeds on cellulose which is present in timber and timber based products, paper and cloth. Termites, unlike other pests do not cause disease but cause major economic damage to our property to the tune of 300 crores of rupees per year. There are 2300 species of termites, out of which about 220 are found in India. All these species are not considered a serious pests in India.
According to their habits, termites can be divided into two well defined groups:
A. Subterranean Termites; which build nests and live in soil.
B. Non-subterranean Termites; which live in Wood and do not require contact with soil.
Subterranean Termites (Family termitidae)
The family includes both mound builders and subterranean forms. The mound builder termites may build nest above the ground reaching several feet, commonly known as termitorium. Subterranean termites are also known as soil nesting termites which must maintain contact with soil. They carry soil where they go and live in controlled temperature and humidity. Majority of termites responsible for damage are subterranean termites. The subterranean termites enter a building from ground level, under the foundation, working their way upwards through floors, destroying all before them. So little is seen of these termite operations that sometimes the structural member attacked is found to be merely a shell with the inside eaten away.
Difference: Ants & Termites
Swarming of termites and ants happen almost at the same time and people get confused. Therefore we should know the difference between termites and ants. Termites have straight beaded antennae whereas ants have elbowed antennae. Termites have thick waist whereas ants have thin waist. Termite’s wings are of equal size, whereas ant’s forewings are longer than hind wings.
The termites are social and polymorphic insects that live in a colony. The subterranean termite colony consists of a pair of reproductive, the so called King and queen and a large number of sterile workers and soldiers. If a queen is destroyed or lost, her place is taken by number of supplementary reproductives.
A. Reproductive Forms :
She is a mother of entire colony and lives in a specially prepared royal chamber, which is situated almost in the centre of the nest at the depth of 30 to 180 cm below the ground surface. She is very big, creamy white, wingless and measures 5-8 cm in length. Her whitish abdomen is marked with transverse dark brown bands. Her only function is to lay eggs. The eggs are laid 40000 – 60000 per day. There is usually single queen in each colony.
King lives in the royal chamber with queen, and does not take part in colony activities. His only job is to mate with the queen.
B. Sterile Forms :
The workers are about 6 mm long, dirty White in color with brown head, eyes small or absent and wingless. They can easily be recognized by their vertically carried head with small broad jaws. They are responsible for damaging wood and cutting galleries. Workers feed the entire colony by regurgitating and excreting chewed material. Their alimentary secretions also help in cementing and sealing the galleries.
They are slightly bigger than the workers, with darker elongated heads and well developed biting jaws. Their function is to protect the colony against any intruder. They also help the workers in keeping the nest clean. They are also wingless and sterile.
Signs of Termite Infestation;
• Mud like tunnels, usually vertical, among the foundation of the interior or exterior walls.
• Termite wings, especially in corners of the house, near door frames.
• Swarmers or flying termites appearing in the house, particularly near light sources.
• Uneven, wavy, distorted surfaces of wood.
• A crack 3mm or wider will allow termites access.
• Make it your rule not to allow any mounds to develop within 200 meters of a buildings or other structure.
Drywood termites generally live (feed and nest) in un-decayed structural wood that have very low moisture content. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not require any contact with soil to live. Thus they can seriously damage not only buildings but also movable wooden objects, such as furniture. These frequently construct nests within the roofs and other parts of the buildings, which they destroy if not speedily exterminated.
Drywood termites are larger (up to 1/2 inch long) than the subterranean termite. A colony begins with single king and queen and develops over several years. These termites consume a relatively small amount of wood. Infestation sites include lumber in sub-flooring walls, attics and roofs. Hardened fecal pellets are extruded from holes of infested wood: they may accumulate in piles below the hole. The fecal pallets have six distinct concave surfaces on the sides; with one rounded end, and one tapered end.
This group contains some of our largest termite; they do not require contact with the soil to obtain moisture; they are usually associated with decayed wood that remains moist either through contact with the soil or exposure to water leak. Dampwood termites plug openings into wood and create large, open galleries, where they live and feed. They do not, however, keep galleries clean The fecal pellets can be found throughout their tunnels in infested wood, although many of the slightly hexagonal pallets are discarded from the galleries through small openings in the surface of the wood. The pallets are only six sided and, they lack the longitudinal ridges that are found with drywood termites.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
• Destroy shelter tubes whenever possible in order to interrupt their access to wooden sub structures.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS
• The queen might live for 25 years or so.
• The termites are the only insects with all four wings of the same size.
• The termites have evolved to eat cellulose. They have protozoa in their gut which makes digestion possible
• Both soldiers and workers are blind.
• Termite workers eat non-stop, 24 hours a day.
• The basic means of communication among termites is pheromone, which is a characteristic odor developed by each colony.
• Termites exchange food from both mouth and hind gut, the process is called Trophallaxis.
• Reticulitermes spp. may forage 260 linear ft. while Formosan termites can forage a linear distance of 330 ft.
• A Formosan termite colony would consume 31 grams of wood each day and 1-ft. length of 28 × 4 pine board in 19 days.
INTEGRATED TERMITE MANAGEMENT SERVICE
The presence of termites in your home is a serious problem and should be treated by a professional pest control operator. Due to the different factors involved we feel a professional would serve your needs better in many cases than doing it yourself. Feel free to e-mail us or call us for further information.
Pre-construction: At GEPCS we use approved chemicals registered for termite control by Registration committee Central Insecticide Board, and adhere to the .guide lines laid down by Indian Standard Institute. We shall provide an exclusive 10 year warranty.
Post construction: In the case of post–construction termite treatment, We specifically use odorless chemicals, which are safe to human, pets and environment. We also give 5 years warranty. However the warranty depends on the specific site and the chemical used.