Tiny as they are, termites can indeed cause serious structural damage to homes and other buildings because of their number; sixty to a hundred thousand termites can co-exist in a single colony, in bigger colonies, their number can even surge up to hundreds of thousands. Knowledge on termite control is important to every homeowner because of this reason. Knowing the basics about termite behavior, a homeowner will be able to prevent termite infestation or if the infestation has already began; at least the homeowner has the idea in dealing with the pests. So basically, this article will provide the necessary basic information that is needed by an average homeowner to go about the process.
Inspecting for Termites
Termites have the natural instinct to hide their activities from humans, especially those whom they live with. It is quite uncommon for termites to make holes on the wood surfaces wherein they feed on. Holes made by termites usually appear once the infestation is already severe and their number is already too large to conceal. Nonetheless, apart from holes, there are other signs which homeowner's may look for in order to verify if a termite infestation is about to happen or if it has already happened.
1. Look for termite mounds in the garden or in the lawn
The termite specie which infests houses is called subterranean. From this name alone, one can deduce that they have to live in some sort of terrain or soil. Termites make their nests underground and from their nest, the workers of the termite colony will begin digging tunnels indiscriminately. Technically speaking, the workings are "eating" away the soil or any material that gets on their way into finding wood or water. Termites do not see or smell, thus it can be safely deduce that the nest that they have built in your garden may not be sufficiently concealed from human sight, thus your chance to destroy their colony before its population grows out of proportion.
It is also a common myth that termites will avenge their colony once you have destroyed it. Some people believe that termites are angered by human interference, thus the reason why they target certain houses. The simple truth is: termites do not plan ahead what they are supposed to do; all that they do is dig forever until they find water and wood. This means that if termites happen to reach your house, only two reasons can be given merit: (1) they have done so by chance or (2) they have followed a leaking pipe or a cellulose material (wood, tree root, etc) that leads to your house. The bottom-line is, find a time to look around your garden and check if any termite mound has suddenly grown and if so, do not hesitate to destroy it before time comes that the termites destroy your house.
2. Seeing Flying "Ants"
It has been a very common misnomer in Australia to call termites as white ants because in the very first place, termites are not ants and they are not white -- they are almost translucent. Perhaps it is also because of this misnomer that Alate Termites have been called flying ants by many homeowners. Nevertheless, Alate termites belong to a certain class in the termite colony whose only job is to make sure the continuance of the colony. If the queen or the king of the colony dies, one of the Alates takes the responsibility of reproducing more termite eggs for the colony. Alates are simply fully developed termites with reproductive capabilities. If the Alates are not needed in a colony because its queen or king still lives, the Alates fly out of the colony to mate and to start out a colony of their own. Upon mating, they lose their wings and then they start building their nests on the ground where they lay their eggs.
Now, if Alates can be seen in your house, it simply means that your house faces the risk of termite infestation. The best thing that you can do is to kill the Alates using termite or other insect repellent sprays. If repellents are not at hand, you can also try placing a basin filled with water on the floor. Alates usually swarm around light emitting sources like fluorescent bulbs or pin-lights, so you might as well want to put the basin filled with water directly under the light. Since water reflects light, the Alate termites will think that the water is another light source and dive into it, wetting their wings in the process. Of course, termites will find it very difficult to fly with wet wings and they end up drowning in the basin.
3. Seeing dust-like wood residues around your house
While the termites "eat-through" the wooded walls and panels in your house, it is but normal for them to leave traces behind them; although the traces may not be visible if the current population of the termites in your house has not yet reach an alarming number. Nonetheless, the presence of dust-like wood residues in your house is already a sufficient warning for you to act upon the termite problem you have at home as fast as you can. Trace where the wood dusts come from and try to find the termite nest inside your house. You may use over-the-counter termite sprays to kill the termites, or you may contact a professional termite buster to do the job for you. Whichever way, the more important thing is that you are able to stop the termites from further ruining your house.
Moreover, if you are already in the height of hunting down every termite that lives in your house, be very thorough in your search. If the presence of termites in your house has already been confirmed, you should make sure that you find the queen before you stop the hunting. If the queen is left to survive, the colony will definitely grow back into its original size.
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