Globally, termites are found roughly between 50 degrees north and south, with the greatest biomass in the tropics and the greatest diversity in tropical forests and Mediterranean shrublands. Termites can seriously damage the structure of a house or building. Many years ago, it was considered sufficient to have only a termite inspection performed before purchasing real estate. If there was no evidence of an active termite infestation, it was assumed that the home or building had no termite damage or structural damage. In some cases, there was serious termite damage to the structure of the home or building that was not found until after the purchase. In addition to the pre-purchase inspection performed by an Engineer, have a termite inspection performed by a qualified termite control specialist. The termite control specialist can recommend treatment options to control an existing termite infestation.
A qualified termite control specialist can also recommend options to help prevent future termite infestations.
Termites mostly feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung, and about 10% of the estimated 4,000 species are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests. The commonly used general groupings are subterranean, soil-dwelling, dry wood, damp wood, and grass-eating. Of these, subterranean and dry woods are primarily responsible for damage to human-made structures. The diet of the subterranean termite consists of anything that contains wood fibre (homes, buildings, live trees), crops, and plants. Live trees include Oak, Ash, and water-bound Cypress. Crops include sugarcane.
Homeowners need to be careful of tree stumps that have not been dug up. These are prime candidates for termite nests and being close to homes, termites usually end up destroying the siding and sometimes even wooden beams. Nests are commonly built underground, in large pieces of timber, inside fallen trees, or atop living trees. Some species build nests above ground, and they can develop into mounds.
Termites are covering their trails with tubing made of faeces, plant matter, saliva and soil. Sometimes these shelter tubes will extend for many metres, such as up the outside of a tree reaching from the soil to dead branches.
Owing to their wood-eating habits, many termite species can do great damage to unprotected buildings and other wooden structures. Their habit of remaining concealed often results in their presence being undetected until the timbers are severely damaged and exhibit surface changes. Once termites have entered a building, they do not limit themselves to wood; they also damage paper, cloth, carpets and other cellulosic materials. Particles taken from soft plastics, plaster, rubber and sealants such as silicone rubber and acrylics are often employed in construction. Use timber that is naturally resistant to termites, such as turpentine tree, Teak, white cypress or one of the sequoias. No tree species has every individual tree yielding only timbers that are immune to termite damage, so even with well-known termite-resistant timber types, pieces occasionally will be attacked. When termites have already penetrated a building, the first action is usually to destroy the colony with insecticides before removing the termites’ means of access and fixing the problems that encouraged them in the first place.
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