Pest Spotlight: Termites

Termites are detrivores, which means they feed on dead trees and plants, as well as the dead parts on a living tree or plants like wood. Since a human home in constructed with a considerable amount of wood and contain a lot more wood based products they can be a huge problem for people. Furniture, shelving, cupboards, books and house foundations are all possible foods for termites.  Subterranean termites have homes which are usually formed in the soil. Within their homes they build elaborate tunnel systems building themselves easy access to their above ground food sources. Dry wood termites instead of living in mounds live within wood itself. They commonly infest walls and furniture within people’s homes.Image

The beginning of a termite’s life begins with the egg. They are small ovoid shapes that are translucent in colour and cluster together. Since termites hide their eggs from predators deeps within their tunnels and homes this stage is rarely seen by homeowners.  After a few weeks when the termite eggs hatch they become larvae. While they are still the same size of the eggs they hatched from they are now a pale white colour. They are immediately tended to by worker termites, which feed them as they cannot yet go and collect from food sources themselves yet. At this stage the larvae are not directly causing the damage seen in homes, but they are the motivation for it as they need to be fed. To become and adult termite the larvae needs to typically molt at least 5 times. After they mature the termites are delegated into their caste classes and are off to perform their duty to the colony. The different colony castes are the workers, the soldiers, and the reproductive termite. Worker and soldier termites can live approximately 2 years while the queen under optimal circumstance can survive up to 50 years while being able to reproduce and lay eggs the whole time.Image

So how did termites get into your home? Well they could have gotten there many ways; an infested piece of furniture or wood, or even an infested piece of lumber during the homes construction or renovations. Another and the most common way is during mating season reproductive termites swarm and migrate (fly) to copulate. During such migration they could have just happen upon your home and decided to settle and build their colony. As soon as you suspect termites it is best to act as termites if left unattended can cause considerable damage to your home.Image

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