Termites

Termites are a group of highly destructive insect pests that reside the urban environment. About 3,105 species of termites have been described, but only a small fraction of them are pests to buildings and structures. Termites can be considered to be beneficial insects. They help to breakdown fallen trees and other plant matters, playing an important role in nutrient recycling in the forest.

Termites can be classified into following three major groups based on their habits: drywood termites, dampwood termites, and subterranean termites. Drywood termites are found inside drywood, often in structural timbers of buildings. Less dependent on moisture sources than other termites and do not need to access the soil for survival. Faecal pallets are normally visible outside the exit holes of an infested piece of timber. In contrast, dampwood termites feed on decayed woods such as old tree stumps, rotting logs, and buried timbers.

Subterranean termites build their nests in the soil and are highly dependent on soil for moisture. They construct mud tubes to avoid dehydration during the process of searching for cellulose sources above the ground level. As such, preventive anti-termite soil treatment is important before a building or property is built. Treating the sub-floor is as important as the perimeter to prevent them from gaining entry into these spaces through treated area.

TERMITES LIVE IN COLONIES

A termite colony consists of immature (nymph and larvae), workers, soldiers, alates (swarmers), and reproductives (king and queen). The soldiers are blind and wingless, they have large jaws or mandibles on the head to help in colony protection and initiate foraging activity. Worker termites are wingless, blind, and sterile. Workers are the most abundant individuals in a colony, they take part in several important roles, including feeding other castes, grooming the royals, making tunnels, and excavating the nest. Alates are founders of new colonies. Female alates are normally larger than male.

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ABOUT TERMITES

Alates termites have two pairs of wings of equal size and shape, whereas the frontal wings of ants are longer than the hind wings. The antennae of ants are elbowed but those of winged termites are not. Contacting a pest control expert in Singapore or a local pest control in your area is a great step to controlling these colonies from getting out of hand.

Termites use their mouthparts for self-grooming and allogrooming (groom other individual). The process of food or nutrient exchange between nestmates called trophallaxis. Trophallaxis can happen from mouth to mouth and from anus to mouth. Workers and soldiers emit an odor (pheromonal) trail when they walk that enables them to find their way back to the nest.

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TREATMENT:

FOR SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES:
  • Soil treatment: create a chemical barrier in the soil around/ under the building foundation to prevent the entry of termites. The soil will be drenched with 5 to 10 liter/m sq. which creates a barrier against termites. The treated areas are then covered by a polyethene sheet to reduce chemical evaporation from the soil. The chemical used could be repellent or non-repellent.
  • Corrective treatment: Holes were drilled in the floor slab along the building perimeter at regular intervals. Termiticides (repellent/ non-repellent) were injected into each hole to form a chemical barrier. The holes are sealed upon completion of the treatment.
  • Spot treatment: Using Fipronil foam. It uses to eradicate the colony. Applied on the infested areas (drywood termite pinholes).
  • Liquid termiticide. Drill holes and inject the termiticides using a syringe until it overflows from the holes. Fill in the holes with wood putty or plastic wood.
  • XTERM™ Termite Baiting works by killing the workers in the termite colony. When the ‘worker’ termites have been eliminated, the whole colony starves and “crashes”. The queens and the soldiers die of starvation as they depend on the workers to feed them. XTERM™ consists of two components; In-Ground (IG) Bait Stations for areas in contact with soil. These normally consist of plastic sleeves which are put in the ground around the house or property. Above-Ground (AG) Bait Stations for direct placement of bait cartridges on locations with termite activity ie. above ground around the house or property. To effectively bait for termites, a pre-baiting strategy is implemented.

Do you know…

Termites cause more than USD 5 billion in property damage and repair every year. An average homeowner would spend approximately USD 3,000 to repair the damage. As much as USD 1 billion is spent on termite control annually. This cost is usually not covered under insurance policies. Hence, it makes a termite infestation more devastating than a fire. To make matters worse, more than 72, 000 landed homes, 210,000 condominium and apartment units, and 1.2 million HDB units are at risk of such destruction.

Frequently Asked Questions on Termite Treatment

Termites are small, soft-bodied insects that vary in appearance based on their caste. Worker termites, which make up the majority of a colony, are wingless, creamy white in color, and typically measure between 1/4 to 3/8 inches long (Termite Institute, 2021). Soldier termites have large, dark heads with powerful jaws and can be up to 1/2 inch long. Reproductive termites, called alates, are dark-colored with two pairs of equal-length wings and can measure up to 1 inch long

Termite soldiers have strong, powerful jaws that they use to defend their colony from predators, but they do not actively seek out humans to bite. Their jaws are too small to easily break through human skin, and termite bites on humans are extremely rare. According to a study by Reinhard & Siva-Jothy (2007), there have been only a handful of documented cases of termite bites on humans worldwide.

The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus), one of the most destructive termite species in Singapore, is not native to the region. It originated in southern China and Taiwan and was accidentally introduced to Singapore through infested ships and trade goods (Lee, 2002). Other termite species, such as the Philippine milk termite (Coptotermes gestroi) and the Asian subterranean termite (Coptotermes havilandi), are native to Southeast Asia (Kirton & Brown, 2003).

Termites feed on cellulose, the main component of wood and other plant materials. They are attracted to moisture and wood in building structures, which provide them with an ideal environment to establish a colony. A single termite colony can consume up to 1 pound of wood per day and can cause significant structural damage if left untreated (Termite Institute, 2021). In Singapore, termite infestations cause an estimated $150 million in damages annually (Lee, 2002).

The termite queen stays in a special chamber within the heart of the colony called the royal cell. After establishing the colony and mating with the king, she relies on worker termites to tend to her needs and does not move around on her own. Her primary role is to continuously lay eggs, producing up to 1,000 eggs per day and as many as 10 million eggs in her lifetime, which can span 15-25 years (Termite Institute, 2021).

Winged reproductive termites, called alates, swarm from their original colony to find a mate and establish a new colony. After swarming and finding a suitable location, they shed their wings, as they no longer need them for flight. The wings are designed to break off easily along a line of weakness near the body called the basal suture (Bordereau et al., 2002). This allows the reproductive pair to focus on establishing a new colony.

Winged reproductive termites, or alates, fly to disperse from their original colony in order to find mates and establish new colonies. Swarming usually occurs in spring or early summer when temperature, humidity, and wind conditions are favorable (Neoh & Lee, 2009). In Singapore, termite swarms are most common between February and April (Lee et al., 2007). During a swarm, thousands of alates can take flight, but only a small percentage will survive to start new colonies.

Verminator.sg is a leading pest control company in Singapore with over 10 years of experience in effective termite control. Our team of trained technicians uses the latest methods, such as baiting systems and microwave technology, to detect, treat, and prevent termite infestations in residential and commercial properties

Common signs of a termite infestation include mud tubes on exterior walls, hollow-sounding or softwood when tapped, darkening or blistering of wood surfaces, uneven or bubbling paint, and small piles of feces (frass) that resemble sawdust. Formosan subterranean termites can also create moisture stains on walls and ceilings (Oi, 2020). If you notice any of these signs, contact Verminator.sg for a professional inspection. Our technicians can accurately identify termite activity in 97% of cases (Verminator.sg, 2021).

To prevent termite infestations, eliminate moisture problems by repairing leaking pipes and faucets, keeping gutters clean, and directing water from downspouts away from foundations. Remove old tree stumps and other decaying wood near the building, and store firewood away from the house. Use treated lumber for outdoor structures and consider installing a physical barrier, such as a metal mesh or plastic sheet, during construction (Oi, 2020). Regular annual inspections by a professional pest control company like Verminator.sg can detect problems early, reducing the risk of costly damage. Properties with regular termite inspections and preventive treatments have a 75% lower risk of infestation compared to those without (Rust & Su, 2012).

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