Facts about termites
They are considered pests and consisted by almost 2,500 species to which 2,200 of it are harmless to our way of living. Raging from agriculture, forestry to housing, termites cause considerable problem and cause damages.
Looking upon the pattern of damage on the tree or crop and observing the pests' behavior, you can identify the termite species and apply appropriate and right methods in controlling termite infestation.
Common termite families
Fungus-growing termites are considered to be the most troublesome. Though these termites eat decomposing materials, they would also feed on the cellulose present in live plants such as maize, millets and groundnuts when decomposing materials are scarce.
Arid areas are favorable spots for building colonies of other termite family known as the Harvester termites. Colonies are difficult to find because they build nests underground. Termites attack the wilting and damage plants, seedlings and crops by collecting the green plant materials.
Termites' Natural Task
Although termites are usually simply regarded as pests, they also play an important role in the earth's ecology. Here are some of the things that they do for nature:
• Mounds serve as a source of minerals for cattle that lick it.
• Releasing of organic matters through break down process as termites digest and eat soil.
• Soil fertility was improved as the termite created mounds which are rich in minerals and crushed it down into the soil.
• Because the microorganisms inside the termite's guts are very rich in protein, termites have also become rich in protein (as well as their excretion). When larger animals feed on termite mounds, they will benefit from the protein present in the mound.
• Termites burrowing activities facilitates soil aeration.
• While some countries, they make more resistant sun dried bricks from the clay of the mounds.
Natural or Organic Methods Employed in Termite Control
There are many organic termite control methods that can be employed in order to avoid the use of poisonous chemicals. Apart from being a sure alternative to toxic chemicals, organic termite control methods also have these benefits:
• These methods share no pollution to the environment. These methods benefit insects and animals (including humans) because they lessen their exposure to pollution caused by other factors.
• These methods do not have to be imported from elsewhere but rather aims to locally use the available resources.
• These methods are easy to perform and simply do not rely on professionals to handle it while cutting down the cost cheaper to almost nothing.
• Organic methods do not completely exterminate the entire termite colony. Termites play an important role in agriculture and their complete absence from the farming system can cause a great impact to genetic diversity and even termite mutation and adaptation to applied chemicals.
These methods of control must be used in conjunction with each other handling it with maximum use of local resources and knowledge to achieve its optimum effectiveness while considering the pests species, climatic conditions, crop species and factors like type of soil and local vegetation cover.
Increase soil's organic matter
The low organic matter content of the soil is thought to be related to termite attacks. Some termites grow fungi inside their colonies to meet their own need for cellulose, however, in most cases, the fungi that they grow in their "gardens" are not sufficient to feed the entire colony, this forces them to feed on live plant materials.
Adding manure from animal wastes and well-rotted biodegradable materials can greatly increase the organic composition of the soil.
Presence of termite predators
Spiders, flies, wasps, beetles and ants are some of the many predators of termites. Mammals like pangolins, bats, aardvarks and monkeys, as well as some frogs, birds and reptiles are counted as other termite predators also.
This wildlife must be encouraged to lessen and help reduce the termites' population. Many creatures that feed on termites find shelter under trees and other bushy plants so it is good if these natural habitats are preserved areas where the infestations take place.
Alternative food sources
You can reduce the damage caused by the termites by "feeding" them with organic materials in a specific contained area. When the amount of cellulose that termites get in a specific area is enough, they will no longer forage any farther. Avoid having dry and bare soil around the crops.
Nonetheless, this method is only a short term solution. Mulching dramatically decrease the attack of termites using manure, hay, wood ash, wood shaving and corn cobs. Moreover, "feeding" termites with organic material would definitely lead to the growth of the termite colony causing an increase overall damage to crops and trees.
New termite mound growing can be prevented by placing a strong magnet close to the termite mound. The magnet should have two poles in order to be effective. Magnetic interference is said to cause confusion amongst termites because they can be greatly affected by the magnetic lines produced by the two-pole magnet.
Queen removal and mound breaking
The manual and explosive destruction of nests tailed by the termite's queen removal is effective. Regular disturbance of the soils throughout an area where termite activity is suspected is also very helpful in preventing termites from expanding their colonies and building larger mounds. If mounds are already visible, breaking of mounds by different artificial means is most effective.
You can prevent termite attacks by building barriers around the building and nurseries. Basalt, volcanic cinders (crushed) and sand are amongst the materials that termites cannot "eat", making these materials effective as physical barriers.
Michael Rozatoru :)