We’ve had our first rains and more people are noticing termites. In this blog we’ll provide tips on how to spot a potential infestation before it’s too late, as well as give you some insights to the different termite colony members you could come across during this season.
While preparing this blog I scoured the internet for images of termites in homes, and I can safely say my endeavour proved quite challenging – a testament to how difficult it is to actually spot termites! More often than not we only spot the aftermath of a termite infestation: extensive damage to the structure of a building (like in the image above).
Termite colony members to look out for in South Africa:
Termite Queen and King:
The function of the Queen and King in the termite colony is to reproduce. Starting out life each as an alate, they leave their parents’ colony, drop to the ground and shed their wings to seek out an environment in which to nest. They care for their young until they are able to take over the duties of the colony.
The workers make up the largest number within a colony. They do all the work, except defend and reproduce: they feed, groom, and excavate the nest and make tunnels. In doing their jobs, they are the primary cause of all the termite damage and destruction that affects so many homes.
Soldiers defend the colony against attack by predatory enemies such as ants, and are equipped with large jaws, sticky fluids or a chemical spray to do so.
Signs of termites:
Unlike pests such as flies and ants, termites lean towards the shy side of life; it’s quite rare to find termites out in the open, they like an environment that’s dark, humid and protected. This is also what makes them so hard to find. We recommend you get a professional to inspect the site at least once a year if you live in an are in which termites are prevalent.
Here are some tips you can use to spot the more common signs of termites:
Spotting the signs of termites may help with early detection – before the problem becomes big and very costly!
- Termite mud: Termites construct ‘mud’ tunnels to provide a safe environment in which to travel, or to protect their food sources. This mudding is often hard to see as it will be behind your walls or underground, but can sometimes be seen in your home’s brick foundations or in architraves.
- Cracks in the cornice or door jams: As termites eat away the timber in your walls or door jams, it causes a loss in structural integrity and cracks form. Though cracks could also be caused by movements in your home unrelated to termites which make it hard to conclude that it is indeed due to termite infestation
- Tight fitting door or hard to open window: As termites devour timber, their excrement or ‘mud’ creates a protective environment that traps heat and moisture. This causes timber to swell, making it harder to open a window or close a door.
- Your vacuum goes through the skirting board: This is a great sign that termites have eaten away the structural integrity of the timber, such as a skirting board, door frame or architrave, as bumps or pressure against them will easily cause damage.
- Papery or hollow sounding timber: When termites consume timber, they eat it from the inside out, leaving a thin veneer of timber or paint. When you knock or tap on an area that has termite damage, it will sound hollow or papery due to parts (or all) of the timber having been eaten away.
In our blog “Mythbusting Termites: Am I safe in a brick home?” we talked about how termite can still cause quite a lot of damage even though they don’t eat bricks, as there are many structural materials that termites will want to feast on. Things such as doors, roof frames, furniture etc. that are still susceptible to damage, therefore it is still important to be mindful of the signs of termite
Learn more about how you can save your home from termites, and if you are concerned that you may have a termite problem, book a survey with us. You can also view more of our pest control services here.