We relate them directly to wood, although they may appear on other surfaces. The termites are insects that live in colonies and can be exceedingly great plagues in our homes.
Here you will learn everything you need to know about termites: what they are, what they feed on, why they can form pests, and how to get rid of them.
Necessary but annoying
Termites are small insects that belong to the Isoptera s family. This name means ‘equal wings,’ that is, its main characteristic is that they have two massive wings of the same size.
They are very similar to ants, although they are not evolutionarily related to them. They are vital insects for the environment since they convert the remains of dead plants and natural garbage into hummus, so they do an excellent job for the soil.
However, being a very social insect, they form huge colonies that live in their nests, called termites.
Termites also feed on wood, as this is a dead trunk, and it is precisely this, coupled with its effortless ability to increase the number of specimens, which makes them considered harmful pests for our homes, especially those whose structures are made on wood.
There are more than 3,000 termite species and, although they prefer tropical or subtropical climates, many of them live in temperate climates.
Types of termites
Termites usually nest on the ground, since there they find the climate they like best: humidity and warm temperatures.
Inside the earth, they create their galleries. Its great organization, very similar to that of the ants, makes us differentiate three classes: the reproductive, the workers, and the soldiers.
Although all these characteristics are common to all types of termites, we can say that in Europe there are mainly three varieties :
- Underground termites: they are, perhaps, the least common. They build their nests in the ground and dig small roads to the areas with wood to feed on them.
- Termites wet wood are those who are more in the natural environment as feed decayed wood or generally rotten wood — for example, three strains, logs that die, or pieces of wood that have been buried.
- Termites Dry wood: they are the most common in buildings, and devouring dry wood, whether furniture, structures, tables, and so on. The worst of these termites is that they usually begin to feed on the inside, so when we go to realize their presence, probably the interior of the furniture or object that has been pasture of them is already hollow inside. Therefore, the best way to know about their existence is to check the droppings they leave behind.
Damage caused by termites
Although the work of termites is vital for the natural environment, sometimes colonies can be created inside our homes or gardens, which can cause indirect damage to human beings.
These are some of the damages caused by these insects:
- As we have said, the leading food of the termite is cellulose, so they attack all types of wood. To reach the forest, they have enough skills to cross plaster, plastic, and sometimes very abundant pests, including concrete.
- If termites enter old or weaker structures, an active plague may end up emptying the interior of the beams and ceilings, causing the complete collapse of the property.
- On the other hand, the real food of the termite is cellulose, so it attacks not only the wood but also the cardboard and paper. Although they have a preference for wood, an abundant plague could look for other food sources, so it is not difficult for them to spread through different areas of the house where there is no wood.
How to remove termites
Termites are a pest of difficult elimination. This is because they are resistant to most products that we can find in the market.
Therefore, we must prevent its appearance by keeping the wood in good condition and throwing away the remains of rotten or dead wood from home and garden to avoid making the effect called.
In case they appear, the most effective and safe is to call a pest control specialist since their reproductive capacity is quite fast. If we try other methods, we could allow their colony to continue growing and make the problem worse.
However, if the pest is still not very large, we can use other less invasive and toxic methods. Here we leave you the most important ones used against termite pests:
- Conventional treatment is the use of biocides that eliminate termites as well as preventing new ones from appearing. It is what we know as fumigation, and is the most used by experts in pest extermination.
- The bait stations are also used to kill termites.
- On the other hand, the use of hot air in the entire infested structure also eliminates both termites and eggs. It is a less conventional method but very useful and, of course, less aggressive than the toxic products that contain the biocides. However, there is a risk of causing damage to wooden structures.
- As for other more homemade remedies, sodium borate mixed with water and sprayed on the most affected parts usually works. The same happens with the mixture of white vinegar and olive oil, as well as essential oils or aloe vera. The latter is more effective as repellents than exterminators.