Termites come in many different sizes and colors, but the most common coloration is a pale, buff color to a dark brown with pincers that are usually darker than the body. They have a segmented body similar to ants with six legs and tend to live in “mounds” or colonies. They can be highly detrimental to both home owners and businesses.
Termites are a “eurosocial” species of insect, one of the highest social groupings in the animal kingdom. Termites are more closely related to cockroaches than to the ants they resemble. They operate in a system of “castes” similar to ants and bees, with workers, royals and soldiers. Termites generally feed on wooden by-products and structures, and some species can be incredibly difficult to exterminate completely. They can be found in almost any area, infesting any kind of wood from dry to damp.
Signs of Infestation
A termite infestation can be spotted in several ways. Firstly, most species will “swarm” during mating season, which generally occurs in the spring, depending on your area. These swarmers will congregate around light sources and might look like winged ants from a distance. A closer examination, however, will show that they are termites. Secondly the examination of a structure suspected of termite infestation will show that exposed wood can sound hollow when knocked or seem soft to the touch. Other signs of infestation can be the presence of water in the structure from a leak as most species of termites are attracted to water sources.
Termites are usually classified according to the kind of environment they like to infest, with species specialized to survive in arid areas, cool and moist soil, and dry or damp wood. All termites eat some form of cellulose, but the type of plant matter can vary from species to species. Extermination companies are most often called in for termite infestations in business or private structures, but they are rarely detected before their activities have done extensive damage, producing visual indications of damage.
Termites primarily consume various types of plant matter, but they are not limited to wood in its timber form, though they can cause extensive damage to timber groves. Termites are found in almost every area of the world, partly spread by human travel. When termites invade a structure, they can cause damage not just to the wood of the structure but also to paper products, carpeting, cloth, plastics, rubber and the types of sealants used in home building. Termites invade a structure by a pattern similar to ants, first sending in scouts in the form of swarmers or soldiers who help a colony establish a footing or in some species establish a colony of their own. They usually gain entrance to a dwelling through spaces or gaps in the buildings’ structure. It is problematic to completely exterminate a colony of termites due to the difficulty of detection.
Treatment and Prevention
Termites are, as stated, difficult to eradicate completely from a structure once they have gained a foothold. Extermination can be difficult but it is not impossible. Treatment of an infested structure can take the shape of replacement of damaged timbers, sealing of gaps in the building to prevent access by scouts and taking steps to exterminate any existing termites within the building.
Prevention of a termite invasion isn’t impossible, since frequent checks and preventative maintenance should already be a part of a building’s care. However, consultation with a licensed exterminator will help to pinpoint the weak points in a structure.