Termite in Latin means ‘wood worm’. They are commonly called as white ants and are closely related to cockroaches. They have been recently included into the order ‘Blattodea’.
Termites are social insect. They build large colonies in soil, trees, stump, wood pile, dead trees, wooden articles and other source of food. Their colonies are maintained at high humidity, this helps to protect thin skinned worker termites from drying out. They gain most of the water content from soil and wood itself. Each colony includes queen, king, workers, soldiers and immature ones. The queen’s body undergoes extraordinary changes and swells up to to give thousands of eggs. That means thousands of termites are added everyday to the colony. The worker’s job is to build the colony, gather food and nurture immature ones. Soldier’s job is to protect the colony from predators.
Termites can be grouped into three basic categories:
Dampwood: Dampwood termites generally live in damp rotting logs or rot pockets in dead or living trees.
Drywood: Drywood termites obtain water from the wood in which they live and have no contact with the soil, or with any other source of moisture.
Subterranean: Subterranean termites are generally ground-dwelling or require contact with the soil or some constant source of moisture and are the main threat posed to timber in the built environment.
Termites are considered to be the most destructive insect pests in the world. A termite colony can consume 5gm of wood per day. Many buildings and structures are damaged by these pests each year resulting in huge financial losses. They are often called as ‘silent destroyer’ because they may be secretly hiding and thriving in your home or yard without any immediate signs of damage. Cellulose found in plants, is the basic food requirements of all termites and in turn all types of plant or wood material can be damaged by termites.
According to Orkin Pest Control Company-each year, termites and similar pests cause an estimated $30 billion in damage to crops and man-made structures in the U.S. Annual termite damage is calculated to be 5 times more than that caused by fire, flooding and storms combined. A homeowner who discovers termite damage spends an average of $3,000 to repair the damage.
Below table shows annual losses associated with termite activity all over the world:
|COUNTRY||COST ASSOCIATED WITH TERMITE ACTIVITY
( US $ 10^6/YEAR)
Source-Department of Process Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Here is some news that shows how termites are affecting our lives:
- Elderly woman found trapped under her bedroom ceiling after the termite-ridden wall collapsed while she was sleeping
31 AUGUST 2015, By ANEETA BHOLE for DAILY MAIL, AUSTRALIA
- The Adelaide woman, 82, was trapped from her waist down
- She sustained minor injuries and was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital
- Neighbors are checking their houses for termites after the incident
An elderly woman has been injured after her bedroom ceiling collapsed and trapped her under mounds of debris. The woman woke to her ceiling caving in, dropping broken wood and plaster in her home on Arthur Street in Payneham.
South Australian Police media said that the damage was caused by a severe termite infestation.
Moisture is a key element that draws termites to wood, and despite the elderly woman’s house being a 1950’s double brick house, ‘the pests were likely to nest in the roof timber,’ explained Pest manager and neighbor Mark Wagner.
- Lenders are cracking down on homes with termite infestation
By Jill Chodorov, September 2015, Washington
In a few recent transactions, buyers’ lenders wanted to know whether any structural damage occurred to the house in cases where termites or other wood-destroying insects were discovered during an inspection.
“Lenders are paying more attention to WDI [wood-destroying inspection] reports to protect their investment,” said Jon Okun of Prosperity Home Loans.
Wood-destroying insects cause billions of dollars of structural damage each year and homeowners spend more than $2 billion each year to treat them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“There are only two kinds of homes-those that have termites and those that will get termites,” said Rusty Markland, operations manager of PestNow, a locally owned pest control and extermination company.
- Aussie camping disaster: ‘Our tent was invaded by flying termites’
NOVEMBER 30, 2015, AUSTRALIA
Many people had camped at Wollondilly numerous times before and never had a problem with insects.
On this occasion it was just a case of bad timing, according to the Australian Museum.
“Termite colonies are formed when the winged reproductive forms leave their original nest and take a colonizing flight. These flights occur during warm humid weather and usually take place during spring and autumn.” it says.
“We’d never spent so much time contemplating termites until this camping expedition. Inside the tent, we found ourselves standing in a cloud of pests so thick we couldn’t breathe without inhaling them. They were there because we hadn’t abided by one of the cardinal rules of camping: do not leave the tent door unzipped at night while there’s a light on inside” said reporter Leah McLennan.
- Hanford battles termites at police station
December 02, 2015, U.S.
Police Chief Parker Sever said he learned about the pests a couple weeks ago. He said building maintenance staff had been sweeping up what looked like sawdust. The material was later determined to be termite droppings.
Maintenance Superintendent Randy Shaw said “Longfield Center, the south Hanford walk-in recreation facility, will need a new roof in the next couple of years due to termite damage. Exterminating the pests will require tenting the building at a cost of about $11,000”.
Termites play a very important role in the ecosystem. They recycle nutrients, in particular nitrogen which is essential for healthy plant growth. When termite mounds erode, the soil particles rich in nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and potassium are washed into soil from the mounds to become available for plant growth. Their excavations alter the structure of trees and provide spaces which have become a necessary part of the habitat of many vertebrate species including bats, birds, reptiles and arboreal mammals. Many species of termite feed on materials such as grass. Only handfuls are of economic importance to timber-in-service. Use of toxic pesticides and insecticides is not an ideal solution to prevent and control this damage caused by termites.
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Termirepel™ is non toxic and non hazardous anti termite and anti insect additive. It is thermally stable and does not degrade on exposure to heat and sunlight. It does not kill or harm the insect but repels them. It does not volatilize and does not degrade in the soil. It is RoHS, RoHS2, REACH compliant and FIFRA exempted.