The Tough Little Termite - Huckleberry Hound

While waiting for the Sentricon bait system to work its magic, might as well sit back, relax and watch a cartoon about a happy little house, its happy little owner who hasn't a care in the world, no sir not a worry in the world, except one teensy weensy little one.

Home Termite Inspection and Termite Control - Day1

Last Thursday, the Termite Control Company sent two of their technicians to do a full inspection of my home including the rooftop. They found some traces of mud tubes at the front door frame made of old wood and a pretty tough one too. This type of hard wood used to be basic material in building homes dating back to the 70s. It's still vulnerable to termites, but takes much longer for them to devour it. These days, construction companies use cheap wood which they claim treated with anti-termite chemicals, but these chemicals tend to wear off after few years. We later found the termite infested areas in the house were the same area renovated few years back.

The technician pricked the corner edges of the door frame and later showed me what was a small termite head sticking out and in of the crack. Judging from the dark brown head, it's most probably a soldier termite guarding the entrance. The technician instructed his assistant to fix the first Sentricon 'Above-Ground' bait station there, photo as below. I thought they would use glue or fasteners to put the station in place, but instead they use duct tape. No  points for aesthetics. The bait consist of white pills contained inside a plastic package and in order to "activate" the bait, a small amount of water is added.

Termite Control Sentricon Bait Matrix with Hexaflumuron
(Sentricon Bait Matrix with Hexaflumuron)

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(Front Main Door Sentricon AG Bait Station)

We then continued to the living room, bedrooms and dining area. All clear. Later it was the kitchen area where few months back we tore apart and disposed the cabinets infested with termites. Now there are several big cracks on the wall where the cabinets used to be. No evident termite activity after thorough inspection. Next the storage room, literally termite heaven. Carton boxes on the floor are being eaten away, with mud mounds connecting the boxes left and right. Definitely far worse than what we've seen in the kitchen before. The technician installed another Sentricon AG bait station on the floor, next to one box with an exposed bottom (photo below). Again duct tape is used to secure the station and also to close the termite foraging path, drawing them to the bait. Upon further inspection, the wall behind the box is where the termites came in. There was this small white mound protruding out from the wall onto the floor. We could see couple of short mud tubes at the other side of the wall too. We left the storage room as it is to avoid disturbing the termite's foraging.

Sentricon, Termite Bait, Termite Control, Termite Inspection, Termite Pest Control, Termite Treatment
(Storage Room Sentricon AG Bait Station)

Sentricon, Termite Bait, Termite Control, Termite Inspection, Termite Pest Control, Termite TreatmentThe roof top attic area  checked out alright, much to our relief. So in all, we had two Sentricon bait stations in the house and the technicians will be back for another round of inspection two weeks later. The next morning I checked the Sentricon bait station at the front door and to my surprise, there were traces of mud tubes between the station and the wall. Should I be amazed or frustrated?

Termite Control - Hexaflumuron in Improved Bait Matrix

An improved, cellulosic bait matrix (Preferred Textured Cellulose, PTC) containing 0.5% hexaflumuron was tested against field colonies of the subterranean termites Coptotermes gestroi and Schedorhinotermes sp. in Malaysia. Of the eight colonies of C. gestroi detected, six were estimated for population size using dyed blank bait before treatment. Then, the colonies were treated with hexaflumuron-PTC baits. Bait consumption and days to colony elimination were estimated. All of the eight colonies were eliminated between 42-77 days (mean = 60 days) with estimated bait consumption of 22.93-167.00 g (mean = 60.17 g) which is equivalent to 114-835 mg of hexaflumuron. A Schedorhinotermes sp. colony appeared in one of the sites within two months after the elimination of C. gestroi. The Schedorhinotermes colony was baited with hexaflumuron-PTC bait and eliminated after 59 days with an estimated 48.85 g of bait consumed. While the effect of PTC bait on Coptotermes sp. showed no difference from that of Laminated Textured Cellulose (LTC) matrices, the PTC matrices showed increased palatability to other termite species such as Schedorhinotermes and Microtermes pakistanicus.

Sourced from :
Elimination of Subterranean Termite Colonies With Hexaflumuron in an Improved Bait Matrix, Preferred Textured Cellulose (PTC). Sociobiology, 53 (3). pp. 891-901. ISSN 0361-6525

Choosing a Termite Control Company

After detecting my house got infested with termites again, this time in the storage room area, I decided to hire professionals to take care of the problem once and for all. Initially I had feedbacks (more like complaints) from relatives and friends who had bad experience with Termite Control Companies (TCC). But after going through the details, I found most of them used the conventional solution which was drilling and pumping chemicals to kill the termites. From the articles I read on the internet, this method doesn't address the core of the problem, since the chemicals do not reach all the cracks and hollow spots in the building structure. Furthermore these chemicals wear out after some time and the termites tend to make a comeback shortly.

I contacted two well-known Termite Control Companies (TCC). They sent their sales representatives a day later to visit my home and make an analysis. I arranged the appointments so that one will come in the morning, and the other in the afternoon.

The first company originated from UK, let's call them TCC1, has been in the pest control business since 1927 providing services to over 40 countries worldwide. They have setup base here in the country for more than 40 years. The sales representatives and technicians who do the field work are directly hired by the company. After checking the areas around my house, the sales rep identified the termite to be Subterranean Coptotermes genus, the most common type found in households. The termite control treatment they recommended was the Sentricon® - Termite Colony Elimination System which is basically a baiting system. The service is packaged in a way to last for a year, with optional renewal upon expiry at a lower price. If agreed and contract signed, TCC1 will send their technicians the next day to carry out a full inspection of the building including rooftop, for signs of termites. A device developed by Termatrac® is used to detect termites through timber, plaster board, brick or masonry with no interference to the building material or termite activity.

Each in-building area found thriving with termite activities will be installed with an Above-Ground (AG) bait station. Each station is a rectangular box 3.5"x6" with 2" height, containing bait compound laced with Hexaflumuron hormone. After 2 weeks, TCC1 technicians will check the stations and verify that termites are taking the bait. If 1/3 to half the bait matrix has been consumed and active feeding continues, a supplement station will be added by stacking it on top of existing station. Stacking avoids disturbing the termite foraging activities. Colony elimination normally takes between 60 to 90 days.

When feeding has not been observed for two consecutively monitoring periods, the bait stations will be removed, followed by periodic inspections (every 3 months) of the building for renewed termite activity. In the event of re-infestation of second termites colony, AG bait stations will be introduced again and fortnightly monitoring will continue until elimination of the termite colony, without incurring extra charges. The whole package cost around USD800 for the first year, with renewal rate around USD200 a year.

In the afternoon, the second Termite Control Company TCC2 did their checks. Pretty much the same analysis as the previous TCC, and they recommended the same Sentricon® - Termite Colony Elimination System. Their package is priced cheaper at around USD670 for the first year, with optional renewal rate approximately USD130 a year. Main difference is that the people I was dealing with are not TCC2 direct employees, rather they are employed by a smaller Termite Control operator holding TCC2 franchise license. This gives them the privilege of using TCC2 brandname and their authorised products (Sentricon is not available to retailers, they are sold only to authorised Termite Control firms like TCC1 and TCC2). The risk here is the franchise holder may go bankrupt and close shop, leaving me with the only option of waiting for TCC2 to assign a replacement. The plus point however is that TCC2 offers a 200% money back guarantee if their service failed to solve the termite problem. TCC2 started its roots in the country back in 1985 and has been expanding their offices since.

Since the product that both TCC use are the same, it's basically the price tag, level of customer service, expertise and response time that score points. In the end, I chose the TCC2 for two reasons : the price tag of course and the sales rep was a lot more accommodating and friendly. And from what I read, Termite Control business is big business, so the chances of the franchise going bankrupt is pretty slim as far as I'm concerned.

My Home Got Infested with Termites

My home was infested with termites back in June this year. That was the first time I realized the house had a termite problem. It started inside the kitchen cabinet, below the kitchen sink. Apparently there was a carton box containing ceramic floor tiles (from a previous house renovation works), placed underneath the sink. Water must have soaked some parts of the carton box over the years and attracted the termites.

Now we can see mud tubes along the wall, trailing the kitchen cabinet edge. The first thing we did was consult our renovation contractor who did the front porch. After some discussion, we decided to take the easiest and fastest solution, tear apart the kitchen cabinet and dispose everything paper or wood. The contractor brought along a mineral bottle filled with a liquid insecticide he got from the hardware store, which dangerously looked like ordinary milk but had a very strong suffocating smell. He later sprayed the chemical onto the cabinet floor and wall edges. Very effective and fast working. Within seconds, the termites were dead but the poisonous odour still remain in the kitchen even today.

We burned the wooden cabinet and carton box in our backyard, and sprayed more chemicals at the remaining termites trying to escape. I think there were more than ten thousand of them and few must have made their way into the ground and wall cracks. Problem solved? Hardly. We knew the termites were still around but we didn't expect them to make a comeback anytime soon.

After couple of months, again the persistent termites were detected, this time in our storage room. Another carton box on the floor was being eaten away, visibly one bottom corner was exposed. Between the boxes we could see what appears to be mud mounds which the termites use to cross from one box to another, they were making highways to whatever cellulite material available in the room. This time we knew we had to call in the specialists to solve the problem once and for all, hopefully.

Termite Control with Sentricon® - Termite Colony Elimination System

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The Sentricon system is marketed as a termite colony elimination system. In order for a colony elimination system to work, the bait must affect every termite in the colony. Worker termites do all of the foraging, so how does the bait get from the worker termites to the rest of the colony?

Remember that the worker termites are responsible for feeding all of their nestmates. They do this by consuming food themselves then regurgitating part of it into the mouths of the other colony members. This same natural behavior is exploited by the Sentricon termite control system to disperse the bait toxicant throughout the termite nest.

It is important to note that the bait cannot work too fast. If the active ingredient killed the termites too rapidly, the worker termites would die before they could pass the bait to other colony members.

Hexaflumuron, Sentricon, Termite Bait, Termite Control, Termite Pest Control, Termite Treatment
The active ingredient in the Sentricon bait is hexaflumuron, a slow acting toxicant. Hexaflumuron is an insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs interfere with the insect's physical development. This particular IGR interferes with the insect's ability to molt. Insects have their skeleton on the outside of their bodies, an exoskeleton.

In order to grow larger they must periodically shed this exoskeleton in a process called molting. Hexaflumuron, a chitin synthesis inhibitor, inhibits the termites' ability to produce chitin (skin substance). Hexaflumuron does not allow the termite to molt properly so it dies in the process.

As worker termites feed on the bait material, they transfer the Hexaflumuron throughout the entire colony via a process known as "trophallaxis". When hexaflumuron is passed from one termite to another the affected termites die during their next molt. In time, there are too few termites left to take care of the colony and feed the queen. When the queen dies the colony is eliminated.

Hexaflumuron, Sentricon, Termite Bait, Termite Control, Termite Pest Control, Termite Treatment
The Sentricon termite control system also supplies above ground stations that the pest control operator (PCO) can place directly on termite mud tubes or infested wood. Hexaflumuron is the active ingredient in the above ground stations as well.


Mothballs (Naphthalene) Do Not Repel Termites

Formosan termites may not worry about moth holes in their sweaters, but they are the first insects discovered to fumigate their nests with naphthalene. Scientists have discovered that termites, like the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes formosanus), produce naphthalene - a hydrocarbon - which they apparently use as a defense against natural enemies, such as ants.

mothball naphthalene
People use the compound to rid human nests of carpet beetles and clothes moths, and to repel intruders such as bats and starlings. It also has antiseptic properties. However, naphthalene does not seem to bother Formosan termites, says urban entomologist Gregg Henderson, Ph.D., and his postdoctoral researcher Jian Chen of Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge. In fact, they introduce the chemical as they construct their nests. And the Agricultural Center researchers have developed a method of using these unique gases to indicate the presence of termites.

A termite nest is a closed system which protects the termites in a microclimate that is controlled and different from that of the surrounding environment, Henderson says. As a soil-dwelling creature, Henderson notes, the termites confront many adversaries such as ants, fungus, bacteria, and nematodes. He believes that fumigating the nest with naphthalene and other volatile compounds may play an important role in inhibiting microorganisms and invertebrate invaders in the nest.

Henderson and his postdoctoral researcher Jian Chen found this unusual chemical in termite nests collected from colonies infesting houses and trees in New Orleans and Lake Charles, La. But the source of the naphthalene remains a mystery. Although Henderson admits that it may be possible for some animals to make naphthalene, he points out that there is no direct evidence of naphthalene being made by any animal or microorganism. Since termites use soil, masticated wood, and excrement to make their nests, one possible source is in the processed food of the termites or the soil, Henderson speculates. Another possible origin, he says, is that microbes are making the naphthalene by acting on material in the termite nest, the gut, or on the food.

Jian Chen from Louisiana State University and colleagues discovered that the termites incorporate naphthalene in their underground nests, which they build by cementing together soil and masticated wood with their saliva and excrement. In every kilogram of nest material, there was between 50 and 200 micrograms of naphthalene.

At these concentrations, the researchers demonstrated that Red Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta), one of the termite’s main predators, become paralysed, and that fungal growth is inhibited, but even at these concentration levels the gas had no visible effect on the termites.

As a fumigant naphthalene is ideal for termite nests, vaporising easily to permeate the complex system of tunnels. But naphthalene may not be limited to defence. The researchers also showed that soldier termites follow trails of dilute naphthalene, indicating a possible use in the coordination of colony behaviour.

The presence of naphthalene in C. formosanus nests is quite remarkable. Tar, coal, petroleum, and the products of partial combustion of organic matter, were once thought to be the only sources of naphthalene in nature. These termite nests now join magnolia flowers and the forehead of male White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as unusual places for naphthalene to be found. Exactly how the termites obtain naphthalene, or whether they manufacture it themselves, is unknown.

Chen, J., Henderson, G., Grimm, C.C., Lloyd, S.W. & Laine, R.A., 1998. Termites fumigate their nests with naphthalene. Nature 392: 558--559.

Formosan Subterranean Termite - Coptotermes Formosanus Species

The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) is an invasive species of termite. It has been transported worldwide from its native range in southern China to Formosa (Taiwan, where it gets its name) and Japan. In the 20th century it became established in South Africa, Hawaii and in the continental United States.

Termites Pictures,Coptotermes, Formosan Termite, Subterranean Termite, Termite Facts, Termites Pictures, Types of Termite
The Formosan subterranean termite is often nicknamed the super-termite because of its destructive habits. This is because of the large size of its colonies, and the termites' ability to consume wood at a rapid rate. A single colony may contain several million (compared with several hundred thousand termites for other subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 feet (100 m) in soil. A mature Formosan colony can consume as much as 13 ounces of wood a day (ca. 400 g) and severely damage a structure in as little as three months. Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of colonies poses serious threats to nearby structures. Once established, Formosan subterranean termite has never been eradicated from an area.

Formosan subterranean termites infest a wide variety of structures (including boats and high-rise condominiums) and can damage trees. In the United States it is responsible for tremendous property damage resulting in large treatment and repair costs.

The Formosan subterranean termite acquired its name because it was first described in Taiwan in the early 20th century, but C. formosanus is probably endemic to southern China. This destructive species was apparently transported to Japan prior to the 17th century and to Hawaii in the late 19th century (Su and Tamashiro 1987). By the 1950s, it was reported in South Africa and Sri Lanka. During the 1960s it was found in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. In 1980, a well-established colony was thriving in a condominium in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The Formosan termite is rarely found north of 35° north latitude. They have been reported from eleven states including: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Their distribution will probably continue to be restricted to southern areas because their eggs will not hatch below about 20°C (68 °F).

Termite Vs Ant Video (German)

A very professional documentary video on termites and their nemesis the ants. For over 200 million years, ants have been attacking and foraging termite colonies for food. Too bad the video is in german but still the captured event is very informative and fascinating.

Termite Queen Video

A high performance Queen termite can lay up to 30,000 eggs a day. That's 900,000 eggs a month or 10,950,000 eggs a year. Assuming a lifespan of up to 15 years, a Queen can lay a whopping 164,250,000 eggs.

Termites in the Wild Video

Sir David Attenborough wanders into the wonderful world of termites in South Africa to better understand the ways in which these amazing animals ventilate their homes, breed and fight for survival. A brilliant video from BBC insect and wildlife show 'Life in the Undergrowth'.

Termite Life Cycle

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The life cycle of the termite begin with a mating flight, wherein established colonies experience winged reproductive males and females leaving, and swarming and then going on to procreate. After fertilization, winged termites land and shed their wings, going on to form new colonies. These insects then become the king or queen termites of their newly-established colonies. The queen and king termites are the center of the termite life cycle and are solely responsible for reproduction.

Termite Eggs
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Termite eggs resemble caviar but much smaller: they are small, white, translucent and ovoid in shape. A new queen's first clutch will contain approximately two dozens eggs. Each subsequent laying will contain smaller egg quantities, although termite queens can lay eggs throughout their incredibly long life spans. Termite eggs are large enough to be visible to the naked eye. However, they are laid in sheltered locations such as wall interiors or underground nests and are rarely seen by humans.

Termite Larvae
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Termite larvae typically hatch within a few weeks. They are approximately the same size as the eggs from which they hatched and are immediately tended to by worker termites. Unlike insects such as the carpet beetle, termite larvae do not directly cause damage to infested homes. However, they comprise a large part of a termite colony and require constant feeding; worker termites feed on wood in order to feed the colony's larvae. Similar to other insect young, termite larvae go through a series of molts, during which they shed their skins, before developing into mature adults. Typically, termite larvae molt five times before becoming adults. From the larval stage, termite larvae can evolve into members of any of the colony's castes. Larvae are cared for by moving them from location to location in order to avoid intolerable temperatures. The colonies themselves are designed to ensure that delivery of food to larvae and relocation of larvae are possible.

Termite Caste
Over the course of several molts, these larvae grow to assume the role of one of the three termite colony castes: workers, soldiers and reproductive termite, also known as alates. Each caste has a distinctly different physical appearance.

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Workers are sexually and developmentally immature insects that are responsible for constructing tunnels and chambers as well as feeding and grooming other termite castes. Their cuticle is unpigmented and not hardened, therefore the animals are confined to a dark and moist environment. Workers build the nest and galleries, they fetch food, care for the brood and feed reproductives and soldiers. The worker’s life span is one to two years.

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Soldier termites are yellow-brown in color, with dramatically-enlarged heads and mandibles. These are useful in combat but render warriors incapable of feeding themselves, they have to be fed by workers. Soldiers are like the workers - sterile, wingless and blind males and females with an unpigmented, unsclerotized cuticle. Soldiers defend their colony from intruders by the use of powerful jaws and/or by ejecting a white sticky repellent from an opening on their head. Usually the number of soldiers is much smaller than the number of workers. Soldiers can be mandibulate or nasute, depending on the species. Therefore soldiers can be used for the identification of termite species. The life span of the soldiers is one to two years.

The reproductive possess compound eyes and are more or less brown due to their sclerotized cuticle. Developing reproductives have wing buds, wings or wing stumps. Reproductives can be further divided into:
Termites Pictures, termite alates,Termite cycle, Termite Facts, Termite queen, Termites Pictures, Types of Termite, Winged Termites
* Alates, the young winged reproductives of both sexes. From time to time about 100 to 1000 alates leave the colony for a mating and colonising flight. After mating a pair settles down at a suitable site like a rotting scar on a tree in order to establish a new colony.
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* De-alates, alates that cast their wings after the colonising flight and successively turn into queens and kings. Initially only a few eggs are laid and brought up by a female de-alate. As the number of individuals in the colony grows, the more workers are available to help the young queen to care for the brood. After three to five years the number of individuals is already so large, that the colony of a pest species can turn into the damaging stage.
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* Queen and king, which are the main reproductive individuals in a colony. Once there are many workers to help the queen, her only job is to produce a tremendous number of offspring. A large queen may lay more than 1000 eggs per day. The life span of a queen can be as much as 50 years.
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* Neotenics assist the queen in laying eggs, once her productivity decreases. When the queen has died or deteriorated, one of the neotenics takes her place. That is the reason why the removal of a queen from her colony does not necessarily mean the end of the colony.

Although it is not clear how larvae are relegated to a certain caste, some research has indicated that maturity and the overall needs of the colony may dictate caste assignment. In fact, research has indicated that castes in the termite life cycle are not rigidly set, as termites belonging to one caste may develop into another caste if the colony requires it. Soldiers, also referred to as intercastes might turn into workers or even into reproductives, if there is a shortage of individuals of other castes. This process is controlled by pheromones.

Types of Termite

Termites have thrived on our planet for the past 250 million years. Technically, there are three major types of terrestrial termites in the United States: drywood; subterranean (ground); and Formosan. All types of termites survive by ingesting cellulose, found in wood and wood products. Termites live within highly organized social colonies much like their biggest adversary, the ant.

Drywood termites like to live above the soil. They are most typically found in wooden structures such as furniture, trees, and house walls and floors. Once these types of termites have established their domain they are difficult to eradicate. They are hard to detect until they have already caused substantial damage because oftentimes, the damage is not visibly apparent from the outside. As they eat away at wood they weaken the structure of the object they are devouring. These colonies eat wood 24 hours a day, so they can cause tremendous damage if unchecked. But unfortunately, this damage is incredibly difficult to detect early on. Even trained professionals often struggle to discover their entry point in order to eradicate an infestation of drywood termites.

The drywood termite is especially dangerous because these types of termites can have thousands of members in a single colony. They do not just eat wood, either. They are known to also eat through wallpaper, plastic, and even plant based fabrics. Because they prefer to live above the soil they do not require moisture like some other types of termites. For this reason, they can build colonies away from the soil, in nests and tunnels burrowed into trees, homes and other buildings.

The Formosan termite is considered the most destructive of all types. It is actually labeled by some as one of the types of termites that fall under the subterranean category. Formosan colonies can be hundreds of feet long and have thousands of members. Their members are classified into three distinct types, each of which performs a specific function in the colony. There are workers, soldiers, and reproductives (kings and queens). These particular types of termites are so powerful in their destructive ability that they can actually destroy a home's foundation within only a few months. It is critical to get help dealing with these types of termites as quickly as possible.

Formosan termites are nicknamed the "super termite" by some because of their awesome destructive ability and also due to their rapid reproductive process. They are known to eat wood, plastic and even metal, and their queens can lay hundreds of eggs or more in a single day. They do great damage by eating through a home's walls. One telling sign of a Formosan termite infestation is a bulging wall. These types of termites can devour more material more quickly than other types, so it is critical to respond quickly by consulting an expert as soon as you suspect an infestation.

Subterranean termites have the largest colonies of all species. Their colonies can actually number into the millions, incredibly enough. Similar to the Formosan termite, these types of termites eat wood, plastic, wallpaper, and fabric made out of plant materials. They are dependent upon the soil for survival. They prefer to live underground or in damp places like rotted trees. Every spring groups of these types of termites fly off to start new colonies. They are known to eat through almost anything, including plastic pipes, subflooring, insulation, and many other objects.

Subterranean termites are known simply as the ground termite in some circles. They make tunnels up to the ground from their colonies in order to reach their food. These tunnels can be a sign of termite activity for these types of termites.

This broad category includes some subcategories that some experts prefer to divide them into because of certain varying geographical boundaries and specific characteristics each subgroup displays. These common group designations are eastern, western, and desert subterranean termites. Each of these three types can be studied independently for its particular traits, but each of these types of termites is considered a pest and all of them are extremely destructive to homes.

Subterranean Termite Reticulitermis Flavipes (Kollar)

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The subterranean termite Reticulitermis flavipes (Kollar) is probably the most destructive and widely distributed species in North America. This species has acclimatized to southern Ontario to such a degree that 27 municipalities report some degree of infestation. Subterranean termites are social insects, feeding on cellulose and living in colonies in the soil. These colonies are close to moisture, and can be readily relocated due to temperature or other environmental changes. Termites travel through soil, in wood itself, or through shelter tubes.

In the termite colony there are generally several generations present. The colony is made up of several castes (forms) (larvae, nymphs, secondary and primary reproductives, soldiers and workers), who carry out specific duties or functions. The female reproductives may lay thousands of eggs. These eggs hatch and pass through an immature stage (larvae) before finally differentiating into either a worker, soldier or reproductive caste.

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The primary female reproductive (the queen), is very rarely found in Ontario, whereas secondary reproductives in the colony carry on extensive reproduction. The two wingless non-reproductive castes consist of the soldiers and workers. The soldiers defend the colony from outside attack, while the workers carry out all duties except defence and reproduction. For example, the workers feed the reproductives, larvae and soldiers, care for the eggs, and construct tunnels and shelter tubes. The soldier caste consists of sterile adults with large heads and pincher-like mouth parts. These soldiers make up 2-3 % of the total colony.

There are three known methods by which a new termite colony may be established:
(1) The first method, common in the warmer climates of the southern United States, is called swarming. This occurs usually in spring, when large numbers of winged primary reproductives (alates) emerge from a colony, fly a very short distance, mate and then establish a new colony. Although alates are found in Ontario, rarely do they swarm.
(2) The second method is called "budding". In this method, when a colony becomes sufficiently large, or a portion of a colony becomes separated from the main colony, new secondary reproductives are formed from larvae or nymphs and the nucleus of a new colony is established.
(3) The third method of dispersal is through infested wood or soil being transported to a new location. As few as 15-40 larvae or nymphs contained in the infested material may moult to become secondary reproductives and begin a new colony.

    The worker termites are white in colour and approximately 6mm (1/4 inch) in length. Their antennae are straight (not elbowed) and the body is not narrowed at the waist, which distinguish them from ants. They have chewing mouth parts and are responsible for foraging and feeding the dependent members of the colony. The hind gut of the worker contains protozoa (single-celled animals) which assist in breaking down cellulose into its component parts which are digestible by the termite. The worker termite causes the structural damages.

    Soldier termites are similar in size and colour to workers, but have an enlarged brownish coloured head with large modified mandibles (large biting jaws), used for defense.

    Termites have a very thin cuticle (skin) and are subject to rapid desiccation (drying out) if exposed to the environment outside their enclosed habitat. In order to maintain a highly controlled environment, termites must live in a closed system. Colonies in wood are always contained within an outside shell of cellulose material. In this way, they are protected from exposure to the outside.

    Often shelter tubes constructed of soil particles cemented together by excrement or secretions from the mouth are used to connect the outside soil to a building and for crossing a concrete or metallic portion in a structure. The presence of a shelter tube is generally the first physical evidence of a termite infestation.

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    About Termite Control Blog

    This blog is created to share my experience with termite infestation. My home was first detected with termites in the kitchen area, below the kitchen sink where water dripped onto a carton box stored there. Later another spot in the storage room nearby got infested as well. The termite was identified as the Formosan Subterranean Coptotermes genus. I hope this blog will benefit you the reader, with valuable information on termites - the different types out there; their behaviour; how to detect, control and protect your property from damage. Equally important perhaps are lessons learned from my experience with Termite Control Companies and how effective their solutions are.

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