The termite measures less than a centimeter but is capable of causing considerable damage in the structure of buildings, such as on furniture and joinery. Presentation of a xylophagous insect whose discovery and destruction are subject to regulations.
What does a termite look like?
Termites ( Termitoidea ), of which there are approximately 2600 species, are representatives of the order Blattoptera ( Blattodea ). Their whitish color has earned them the nickname white ants. The insect, which measures between 5 and 8 mm, has a pair of antennae perpendicular to the axis of the body and six short, stubby legs. Of great power, its chewing mouthparts are oriented towards the belly. Depending on their social function within the colony, termites are blind, sterile, and/or wingless (devoid of wings).
Distribution of termites
Of the 2600 species recorded in the world, the vast majority live in the tropical regions of Africa, the Far East, the Caribbean, Central, and South America. Termites are also found in more temperate zones such as North America, Oceania, Japan, South and North Africa, and Europe. In mainland France, six species of termites are recognized: five are underground ( Reticulitermes ) and the sixth ( Kalotermes flavanols ) is called “dry wood”.
Underground termites: the most formidable
The six species of termites identified in France are divided into two types :
- Subterranean termites live in the soil of dwellings, go up, and then feed on the wood used in buildings. Their ideal living conditions meet four criteria: darkness, humidity, heat, and poor maintenance of the premises and its surroundings;
- Drywood termites are not considered truly pests because they are restricted to natural environments and their colonies number relatively few individuals
Termites, social insects
Termites are qualified as social insects because they live in organized colonies in which each individual plays a specific role according to his caste :
- The queen occupies a royal chamber in the center of the termite mound. The largest member of the colony, she surrounds herself with a king with whom she mates, soldiers and workers who defend and feed her.
- The soldiers, equipped with large heads and powerful jaws, defend the colony against ants and other invaders. They are blind and flightless.
- The workers carry out all the tasks of the colony: they build, maintain the termite mound and the galleries, look for food and bring it to the members of the group. They are sterile, blind, and wingless.
- Spawners appear when a colony has reached a certain population density. These individuals develop wings and at sexual maturity, leave the group with the aim of giving rise to new colonies.
As seen above, termites live in the ground and feed on wood (and its derivatives) that they find in nature or in homes. This species (which flees during the day) digs its galleries discreetly at night, nibbles the interior of the wood, thus leaving its surface intact. Termites attack frames, floors, door frames, and even furniture. Generally, their presence is detected when the damage is already well advanced. Note that these xylophagous insects can also attack carpets, rugs, plastic, PVC, light metals, and electrical cables.
Know how to detect the presence of termites
The most effective method of detecting the presence of termites is to probe the wood.
- Start from the outside of the house. With a thin, pointed object, scrape away anything that is made of wood in the garden: stumps, fence posts, piles of logs, rotting boards, etc. If the material crumbles, there may be an infestation;
- Watch for the presence of feces. They look like small pellets of sawdust and may appear near walls and other termite gathering places;
- Look for earth tubes on the walls. Called cords, these tubes are constructed as protection from predators and light. They take on a clayey aspect and a brown color;
- In the house, probe the floors and woodwork. Does the wood feel hollow or very soft? Then an invasion is possible. If the floor and ceiling sag, the damage is already serious. Peeling paint is also an indicator;
- Listen carefully because the soldiers make noise by often banging their heads inside the walls.
Termites: regulatory obligations
Risk areas have been defined by the public authorities. Faced with the significant damage produced by the xylophagous insect which can threaten the solidity of the constructions, regulatory measures have been taken and their non-compliance sanctioned by a fine.
- When you discover termites in your home (including in uncontaminated areas ), you are required to make a declaration to the municipality;
- In sectors where termite outbreaks have been identified, the mayor can oblige the owner or the co-ownership trustee to have a diagnosis carried out ;
- If the presence of termites is confirmed by the diagnosis, the owner or the syndic of the co-ownership must have eradication work carried out within a period set by the town hall;
- In infested areas, the municipality is entitled to determine areas where owners are required to treat their homes.
If you have detected an invasion of termites in your home, have an extermination company intervene quickly, within a maximum of three months after discovery. Do not hesitate to play the competition by asking for several quotes. Take into account the price but also the services. Discuss eradication options with the professional. The infestation is usually treated with pesticides. As such, check that the company has Certibiocide certification, which is mandatory to use this type of product, as well as authorization for work at height if the frame is affected. If the use of chemicals bothers you, other options are possible such as treatment with traps or hot air. In any case, do not risk solving the problem on your own because the treatment – to be truly effective – requires specific skills. If you live in Southern California and are looking for a Professional Termite Inspection and Treatment company, look no further than Turbo Termite San Diego Termite Inspections and Treatment company.