We say a termite (masculine noun) and not a termite (frequent error).
Termites are sometimes called white ants, but beware, they should not be confused with carpenter ants, pharaohs or pavement ants which are totally different. Termites are also distant cousins of the cockroach family, hence their membership in the order Blattoptera.
They are found everywhere, mainly in tropical areas but also in the United States and southern Canada.
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ALL ABOUT TERMITES
How do you know if they are termites?
There are several signs that could indicate the presence of termites in your home:
Earth Tunnels: Termites build mud tunnels, also called termite tubes, to travel safely between their underground colony and their food source (your home). These tunnels are usually located near the foundation of your home.
Damaged wood: Termite-damaged wood often has a hollow or hollowed-out appearance when tapped, and may appear crushed at termite entry points. Termite-affected wood may also have a maze-like pattern, although this may not be visible without disassembling or tearing the wood.
Wood and wing debris: Termites discard their wings near their nest entry points. These wings are usually the same size and can look like small scales. You can also find small piles of sawdust around your house.
Visible termites: If you see small white or cream-coloured insects in or around your home, you may have a termite infestation.
If you notice one or more of these signs, it is recommended that you contact a professional to inspect your home. Only a professional can confirm a termite infestation and propose an appropriate treatment plan.
How do termites get into a house?
Termites can enter a house in several ways. Here are some of the most common ones:
Wood in contact with the ground: Subterranean termites generally live in the ground and look for wood in contact with the ground, including beams, boards and lumber.
Foundation cracks: Termites can squeeze through cracks as small as one millimetre, including cracks in concrete, and gain access to the wooden structures of your home.
Tunnels: Termites create mud tunnels, also called termite tubes, to reach food sources. These tubes can climb on concrete structures, pillars, walls, etc.
Damp wood: Termites are attracted to damp wood and may be attracted to areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, or where there are leaks.
Swarms: Winged termites, or “allates”, leave their colony to swarm and create new colonies. If these winged termites enter your home, they may lose their wings and start a new colony inside your home.
That’s why it’s essential to regularly inspect your home for termite activity, keep wood off the ground, repair water leaks and seal cracks in your home’s foundation.
Are termites dangerous to humans?
No, termites are not directly dangerous to humans. They are not known to transmit disease and are generally unlikely to bite or sting. Moreover, they are not allergenic.
However, it is important to note that their presence can pose serious risks to the structure of your home. Termites are known for their voracious appetite for wood and other materials containing cellulose. If not detected and treated promptly, they can cause extensive and costly structural damage. Termite damage can also go undetected for a long time because they usually consume wood from the inside out, leaving a thin layer of wood or paint intact that masks their destructive activity.
In addition, although rare, some people may have allergic or asthmatic reactions to termite droppings or to the dust created by their activity.
Overall, while termites are not a direct danger to human health, it is important to treat any termite infestation as soon as it is discovered to protect your home.
What attracts termites?
Several factors can attract termites to your home. First and foremost, they are attracted to cellulose, a substance found in wood, their main food source. This is why houses with a lot of wood, especially if it is in contact with the ground, are particularly vulnerable.
In addition to food, moisture plays a major role. Termites are attracted to moist areas and thrive in environments with high humidity. Water leaks, clogged gutters, condensation and rotting wood can all create conditions that are favourable to termites.
Light can also attract certain species of termites, especially those that fly to reproduce and colonize new territories.
Finally, termites are attracted to woody debris such as tree stumps and piles of rotting wood outside the house. Even wood mulch can attract termites if it is placed too close to the foundation of the house.
Therefore, to reduce the risk of infestation, it is advisable to limit moisture around the house, keep wood piles and debris away from the house, and conduct regular inspections for termite activity.
|About 6 mm
|Queen: up to 40 years old
Female workers: 4 years
|White or creamy white
|Queen : up to 40 years old
Female workers: 4 years
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HABITAT: TERMITE MOUNDS
Like ants, termites are social and live in colonies, with hierarchical and organized castes.
There are two main distinct species:
- The subterranean termite (which builds visible termite mounds above ground) – In this case, the termite mounds are huge constructions that do not go unnoticed. They constitute the visible part of the nest which can reach six meters in certain countries in Africa. These termite mounds are built of earth, lignin (digested wood), cellulose…
- The dry wood termite that lives exclusively in wood.
A HIGHLY ORGANIZED COMPANY
Termites are xylophagous (wood-eating) insects that are lucifugic (flee from light) and with the exception of sexual termites, all others are blind. They live in the ground, in organized colonies including:
- Soldiers” whose role is to defend the termite mound,
- Workers” who build the nest and supply it with food,
- Sexed” insects that are the only ones able to reproduce (future kings and queens)
Termites use contact and sex pheromones to communicate.
The reproduction of termites
Once fertilized, the female becomes enormous and can in some cases multiply by 100 its size. Female termites give birth to thousands of eggs per year. The larvae become soldiers, workers or sexual adults.
Only the sexed adult has two pairs of wings which it loses after the nuptial flight. Swarming usually occurs in April/May and the sexual termites go in search of partners to found a new colony.
Termites are characterized by very strong mouth parts and attack wood. These insects can cause significant damage to homes and structures.
The presence of termites is quite rare in Quebec, but they are increasingly found, the regulations do not require owners to perform a parasitic diagnosis. This is absolutely not the case in France, for example, which is subject to very strict regulations.
The main termites found on American soil are
Formosan Termites, Drywood Termites, Dampwood Termites.
HOW TO DETECT THE PRESENCE OF TERMITES?
The main signs that indicate the presence of termites are:
- Galleries and tunnels built in the wood (does not produce sawdust),
- The presence of tiny holes (2mm) at regular intervals,
- The presence of worms in the wood,
- The mass flight of sexual termites to found new colonies (swarming period)
It is important to know that termites always start their attack from the bottom of the house. But these insects are difficult to see because they do not produce sawdust and attack the heart of the wood.
HOW TO FIGHT AGAINST TERMITES ?
The insect exterminator offers durable solutions that get rid of termites in the long term with products that are injected directly into the wood. This professional adapts to the problem with different methods:
- Logging: The exterminator removes all the damaged parts of the wood to find the healthy parts.
- Brushing: Dusting facilitates the penetration of the insecticide product.
- Insecticide: The appropriate product is sprayed or brushed on.