Termites are the most important wood-destroying structural pests in the world. The main problem is with subterranean termites, i.e., termites that normally live below ground and may move up into a structure where they cause damage. Termites are “social insects,” i.e., they live in a nest or colony which is typically found underground, often near a tree, stump, wood pile or other source of ‘food.’ Each colony contains a king and queen who are brown in color. They are wingless now but started out having wings and “swarming” from their original home or nesting site where they developed. The queen is able to lay thousands of eggs each year and continues to do so for about five years. There are also soldier termites which have large heads equipped with large mandibles (“jaws”). The soldiers protect the colony from invaders (such as ants). The bulk of the termite colony consists of thousands of whitish workers who serve various roles. Some workers maintain the nesting site and take care of the queen and the newly hatching immatures (sometimes called “larvae”). Other workers go out and actively forage (search) for food. The foraging workers are the ones that we typically find infesting wood. As the colony grows, the workers expand both the nest and their feeding area. Depending on the species of termite, a mature colony can contain 200,000 to 2,000,000 workers, although many colonies contain as few as 50,000-60,000. Studies have also shown that termites from a single colony may forage across an area of one-third acre and travel over 200 feet from their nest. One acre of land may support several termite colonies (although this doesn’t mean that all of them are invading your home!). A large termite colony does not usually occupy a single underground nest. As the foraging area expands the colony actually splits to form several smaller “nesting sites.”
Signs of Termite Activity
– Mud tubes
Types of Termite Treatments
Simply spraying swarmers or the surface of accessible infested wood may kill the termites that you see now, but it does not stop the infestation nor does it protect your house from future attacks by termites. The most common type of termite treatment involves a “trench and treat” where a liquid insecticide (“termiticide”) is applied to the soil surrounding critical areas of your house. The most critical area needing treatment is the foundation wall . The soil is trenched 6″ deep and about 4-6″ wide. For houses with crawlspaces, the soil along the interior foundation wall must be treated at least within 4 feet of identified signs of termite activity. In some cases, the soil around supports (such as piers) underneath the house are also treated. In order to be effective, this treatment must extend down through the soil to the top of the foundation footer. When applied correctly, this treatment forms a continuous chemical barrier that should prevent termites from reaching the foundation and piers in your house.
Common treatment method in Malaysia:
Concrete slabs that attach to the house, for example, a garage floor, or the slab of an earth-filled porch.
Voids inside foundation walls, piers, etc. within 4 feet of known termite activity.
The side walls of earth-filled porches within 3-feet of the foundation wall and
any structural wood.
Termite Baits – Another option for treatment is the use of a termite bait. These products are used differently from liquid treatments and may be used with a liquid treatment.