Flying Termites in Singapore - CBD Area

Understanding Termites in Singapore: A Homeowner’s Guide

We’ve all heard about a neighbor, friend, or cousin who has had an issue with Termites in Singapore and we know how annoying it can be, especially because these tiny insects are eating our cupboard, sofas, bed frame, parquet flooring, or even worst our house structure… This is due to the prevalence of termites in Singapore, indeed our environment is perfect for them, this combo of hot and humid weather and being surrounded by so much wooden furniture. Of the 2 main types of termites Drywood termites and Subterranean termites, the latter ones are the most common here, they usually settle their colony in the ground and infest our houses from there instead of having their nest inside the furniture as the drywood ones. 

To make things more difficult these 2 types require different treatments, knowing which of these insects is causing the infestation is key to choose the appropriate control method.

Table of Contents

Termites in a hawker center

Termites in Singapore – Presence and Identification

Yes, termites are indeed present in Singapore, and they can be a significant concern for homeowners. There are primarily two types of termites found here: Dry-Wood Termites and Subterranean Termites. Dry-Wood Termites typically live in the wood they consume and are less dependent on moisture from the soil. In contrast, Subterranean Termites build their colonies underground and create mud tubes to access food sources above ground. Both types operate within a caste system, consisting of workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites, each playing a specific role within their colonies.

Signs of termite presence include mud tubes, which are shelter tunnels made from soil and wood particles that protect them from the environment; droppings, which resemble small, wood-colored pellets; and discarded wings, which come from swarmers. Swarmers are reproductive termites that fly away to start new colonies, often shedding their wings during the process.

In Singapore, termites are commonly referred to as “white ants,” a literal translation from the Mandarin “bai ma yi,” or “anai-anai” in Malay, although they are distinctly different pests from ants.

To differentiate between termites and ants, especially in their flying forms, look at their physical structure. Flying ants have a pronounced narrow waist, giving them a segmented appearance, often described as a “sexy body.” In contrast, termites have a broad waist and a more uniform body shape.

Additionally, termite wings are roughly equal in size, while ant wings are uneven.

Are termites noticeable? Yes, they can be seen with the naked eye, especially when they swarm or when part of their colony is exposed due to disrupted wood or mud tubes. By understanding these characteristics and signs, you can better identify and manage termite issues in Singapore, ensuring the integrity and safety of your property.

Understanding Termites

Termites in Singapore exhibit a variety of lifespans within their colonies; a king typically lives up to 7 years, while a queen can endure for about 20 years, continuously laying eggs—potentially up to 2,000 per day. Workers and soldiers generally have a shorter lifespan of about 3 years. Termites do not bite humans, as their diet is exclusively cellulose found in wood and wood by-products, though they might incidentally damage PVC casings and electrical wires during exploratory feeding. Touching termites is generally harmless. Termite activity often increases visibly during certain periods, especially when alates, or swarmers, are involved. These swarmers are attracted to light and are commonly seen swarming around lights at night. The entire process from swarming to finding a nesting site typically completed within hours.

The flight range of termite alates can vary from 100 to 700 meters horizontally and 10 to 30 meters vertically, influenced by factors such as species, wind speed and direction, light disturbances, and rainfall conditions.

Additionally, termites are known to make a distinctive clicking sound at night, part of their colony activity. This clicking can sometimes be heard during these swarming periods, adding an auditory signal to their presence.

About the Cast System

The caste system in termite colonies is a remarkable example of social organization, where each caste has specific roles crucial for the colony’s survival and efficiency. This system is present in both major types of termites found in Singapore—Dry-Wood and Subterranean—and includes the workers, soldiers, and reproductives, with the notable inclusion of a king and queen caste among the reproductives.

Workers

Workers constitute the majority of the colony and undertake essential tasks that sustain the colony’s vitality. These tasks encompass foraging for food, feeding other colony members, constructing and maintaining the nest, and caring for the eggs and young. Typically blind and sterile, worker termites dedicate their entire lives to laborious activities. They are primarily responsible for damaging wooden structures, as they digest cellulose in wood, providing nutrients not only for themselves but also for other colony members.

The workers are the ones targetted by the Xterm baiting system asthey will be conveying the poison to their queen 

Soldiers

Soldier termites are tasked with defending the colony. Equipped with large jaws (mandibles) or chemical glands that emit defensive substances, they protect against predators like ants and rival termite species. Usually larger and also blind, soldiers depend on workers to feed them and lead them to threats. Their role is pivotal for the colony’s protection, safeguarding the reproductive termites and the overall integrity of the nest.

Reproductives

The reproductive caste encompasses the king, queen, and alates (winged termites, also known as swarmers). The queen is primarily responsible for egg-laying, potentially producing thousands daily to ensure the colony’s growth and sustainability that’s why it’s key to kill the queen to get rid of termites thus requiring a deep treatment as opposed to a surface one. The king remains by the queen’s side, continuously fertilizing the eggs throughout their lives. Alates emerge from mature colonies and engage in nuptial flights, usually triggered by specific weather conditions. Post-flight, these alates discard their wings and pair off to establish new colonies, assuming the roles of kings and queens in their new domains.

Each caste is physiologically distinct, reflecting their specialized roles. Workers and soldiers are often blind due to their subterranean activities, whereas reproductives have eyesight, necessary for flight and mate selection. This division of labor within the termite caste system exemplifies evolutionary specialization, enabling termites to effectively utilize diverse habitats, including urban environments like Singapore.

Preventing Termite Infestation

Preventing termite infestations in Singapore requires a multifaceted approach. To prevent termites in general, regular inspections and the use of physical or chemical barriers (such as soil and corrective treatments) around buildings are effective strategies. For flying termites, specifically, it is essential to seal (as much as possible) all entry points such as windows and vents, and to reduce outdoor lighting during swarming seasons to make the area less attractive to them.

To stop termites from spreading, remove sources of excess moisture and keep wood, such as firewood or debris, away from the foundation of your home. Certain scents, like those of cedarwood, vetiver, and tea tree oil, are natural deterrents for termites. These oils can be used in affected areas to keep termites at bay. Anyhow you need to control the colony else it will find a way to spread, we do recommend the X-term baiting system as it has more chances to ensure the destruction of the colony.

Of course, it would be idealistic to think that it can work 100% of the time but we are proud to say that until now we have always managed to destroy the termite colonies that the company has faced.  

Additionally, applying termiticide sprays on vulnerable areas can effectively keep termites from invading. These sprays create a chemical barrier that kills termites on contact and can be a critical part of a comprehensive termite prevention plan. Regular maintenance and vigilance are key to ensuring these measures remain effective over time.

Wood which has been consumed by termites

DIY Termite Control in Singapore

To tackle termite problems in Singapore through DIY methods, you can start by using naturally derived solutions and specific treatment techniques.

First cononsider using borate-based products to control termites naturally. Apply borate solutions directly to wood surfaces in your home, that will soak into the wood and kill termites on contact. Diatomaceous earth is another natural method; spreading this fine powder around termite-affected areas can dehydrate and kill the termites as they pass through it.

For spot-treating termites yourself, it is crucial to first identify the affected areas. Look for signs of termite activity such as hollow-sounding wood, mud tubes, or visible swarms. Once identified (and better if it’s before you move into a new place), you can drill holes into the infested wood and inject termiticide directly into these areas. This localized treatment can help eradicate termites from specific sections although not very effective.

Additionally, setting up termite baits around your property can help manage smaller infestations. These baits contain slow-acting insecticides that the termites carry back to their colony, eventually killing the colony over time. Regular monitoring and replacement of these baits are necessary to ensure they remain effective.

Always ensure that any chemicals or natural solutions used are safe for indoor use and do not pose a risk to pets or children. If the infestation persists or is extensive, consulting a professional pest control service is advisable to prevent further damage to your property

6. Professional Termite Control

Concern about termites is justified, especially since they can cause significant structural damage to homes and other buildings. To manage and control termite infestations permanently, a combination of preventive and active measures is often necessary.

Regular spraying with termiticides can be an effective preventive measure to keep termites at bay. These chemicals create a barrier that termites cannot cross and are a standard approach to termite prevention. For immediate results, products containing fipronil or imidacloprid can kill termites on contact; however, these should be used carefully and according to manufacturer instructions to ensure safety and effectiveness.

To address an existing infestation, especially for dry-wood termites, a comprehensive approach like that offered by Verminator can be very effective. We provide specialized treatment for dry-wood termites, charging an ad-hoc fee of $350. Regarding subterranean termites as it’s more complex and requires more services you can count at least $2,000 for a complete treatment. This method targets the unique behaviour and nesting habits of dry-wood termites, aiming to eradicate the infestation thoroughly.

Permanent control also involves regular inspections and maintenance to detect early signs of termite activity, ensuring that any new infestations are dealt with promptly. This integrated pest management approach not only addresses current infestations but also helps prevent future ones, securing your property against termite damage over the long term.

Recognizing and Dealing with Termites damages in Singapore

Termite damage can vary in appearance depending on the type of termite and the extent of the infestation. Generally, it may include:

  • Hollow-sounding or visibly damaged wood: Termites consume wood from the inside out, leaving a thin veneer of timber or paint. When you tap on an area that has termite damage, it may sound hollow due to parts of the wood having been eaten away.

  • Mud tubes: Subterranean termites build mud tubes to travel between their soil home and food sources. These tubes are typically about the width of a pencil and can be found near the foundation or along exterior walls.
  • Frass: Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings as they eat through wood. These droppings, known as frass, often resemble fine sawdust and can be found near affected areas.

Regarding where termites can live, they typically do not infest beds or other furnishings unless these items are made of or contain wood and are already close to an existing termite colony. However, it’s relatively uncommon for termites to live in mattresses (not like bed bugs)or other bedding materials as they primarily feed on cellulose found in wood.

The implications of termite damage on property can be severe:

  • Structural damage: Over time, termite damage can weaken the structural integrity of a building. This is particularly dangerous in areas that support a significant amount of weight or are critical to the stability of the building, such as beams and pillars.
  • Costly repairs: Repairing termite damage can be expensive, especially if the infestation is widespread. Structural repairs may involve replacing beams, walls, or even foundations, which can be disruptive and costly.
  • Decreased property value: Homes with a history of termite damage often see a decrease in value. Potential buyers may be concerned about the integrity of the structure and the potential for future infestations.
  • Non-structural damage: Termites can also damage non-load-bearing elements, which, while not as dangerous, can still be costly to repair. This includes damage to paneling, carpet, books, and even insulation.

It’s crucial to address termite issues as soon as they are suspected to prevent the spread of damage and the associated costs and risks. Regular inspections and timely interventions can help mitigate these risks significantly.

Conclusion

Being proactive about termite control is crucial for maintaining the structural integrity and value of your property. Termites can cause extensive damage often hidden from plain sight, leading to costly repairs and significant structural issues over time. 

I strongly encourage consulting with professional pest control experts who can provide a comprehensive assessment and tailored solutions for your home. Professional services not only help in accurately identifying potential or existing termite issues but also in implementing effective control measures that are safe and long-lasting.

Consider scheduling a free inspection or extensive entomological survey with a termite control expert to ensure your home remains termite-free. Doing so can offer you peace of mind, knowing that your property is protected from the potentially devastating impact of termites. Remember, the cost of preventive measures and professional management is minimal compared to the extensive repairs needed after termite damage has taken its toll. Take action today and secure the health and longevity of your home.