Termites and Termite Control- What You Need to Know

If you think that your home may be dealing with a termite infestation, it’s only natural to want to know everything you can about these destructive insects and what you can do to get rid of them!

Many homes, buildings, and other structures suffer costly damage worth millions of rands each year in South Africa. Termites are some of the most destructive insects globally, so you need to make sure to know what signs to look out for and how to access termite control help at the first sign of trouble.

Below we will talk you through everything you need to know about termites. You will learn about the different types of termites, which termites are destructive, what types of termites you will find in South Africa and what you should do in terms of Termite Control.

So if you’ve always wanted to know the difference between drywood termites and subterranean termites, or just want to know how the basics of termite control, keep reading!

Which Species of Termites are Found in South Africa?

There is more than one type of termite and each species of this insect is identifiable both by its appearance and where it may be found in your home and property. Here is a breakdown of the species of termites and where they are likely to be discovered.

Woodborer (also known as) Drywood Termites

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites like to nest in wood, meaning they can be particularly destructive to buildings, burrowing into roof timbers, floors, and furniture. Once they have made a nest in a dry and wooded area, they will eat the wood beginning from the inside and moving to the outer surface. This pattern makes them harder to detect during the initial stages of an infestation.

If an infestation of woodborer termites is not detected soon enough this may result in damage to wood and your home which can be very costly. The termite excrement (frass) looks like grains of sand. You may be able to spot haphazard patterns in infected wood as they eat their way through the grain.

Drywood termites are usually found in the coastal areas of South Africa but can be found all over the country. They are especially prevalent in the Eastern Cape and eastern Kwazulu Natal.

White Ants (also known as) Subterranean Termites

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites live underground but will need to head to the surface now and again to search for food. To do this, they will make tunnels in the earth which allow them to move around while being protected from predators and keeping them cool.

Subterranean termites can grow to colonies of up to 2 million members and the Queen termite can live up to 50 years! During this lengthy reign, queen subterranean termites can lay thousands of eggs that will hatch in moist warm climates.

Because of their transparent skin, these termites are not usually seen in the open (they are apt to dry up in the sun). This makes them hard to spot until the damage is done. Their excrement (carton) looks like a rigid cardboard material.

When subterranean termites head overground these termites can be incredibly destructive, eating the timber in decking, window frames, door frame, and skirting boards. They can also feed on the wood in your trees and plants outside.

This species of termites usually find their way inside through gaps and joints in walls and foundations. They can be found inside roofs after tunneling their way through the brickwork.

This termite species can be found all over South Africa but is mainly found in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Harvester Ants (also known as) Dampwood Termites

Harvester Ants

In contrast to the two termite species above, dampwood termites mainly feed on grass. This may be good news for your furniture, but terrible news for your lawn! These types of termites can also be found in thatch roofs and if a termite infestation is not controlled quickly, you may have to fork out for a complete re-thatching.

Dampwood termites have been found all over the country.

How the Colony of Termites is Made Up

Colony of Termites

When you have a termite infestation, there will be different types of termites within the colony. Here is a breakdown of how the colony is made up.

King and Queen of the Colony

The King and Queen of a termite colony are responsible for reproduction in the colony. Beginning as an Alate, when they grow they will leave the colony of their parents and then seek out their own location in which to nest. During the infestation, they take care of their young until they are old enough to take over running the colony.

The Termite Workers

The largest volume of termites of the colony is the workers. The termites work on creating the tunnels, excvavti8ng the nest, and sourcing food. They are responsible for the majority of damage that occurs in homes.

The Termite Soldiers

The soldiers of the colony defend the colony from the predators who may attack such as ants and other insects. The termites have large jaws and can spray a sticky or chemical spray to fend off invaders.

Termite Alates

These are the young termites that will grow to be the most powerful of the colony – the Kings and the Queens. They are responsible for the reproductive duties in a new colony and will pair off to find a new location in which to mate and develop their own position as the queen and king.

How to Spot a Termite Infestation

As we have detailed above, it is very hard to discover that termites are in the home until it is too late. However, there are some signs of termites you can look out for to save yourself from the cost and the disruption of damaged wood and furniture in your home.

The first thing you can look for is excrement droppings on the floor. If you see frass (which looks like little piles of sand) underneath wooden structures, this is a good indication that drywood termites are present.

To spot subterranean termites, look for mushroom-like fungi which will indicate the termite colony location. Or else you may spot muddy soil on the bark of trees which can be another indicator that termites are present.

There are many other symptoms that may show that termites are present in your home:

• Have you spotted discoloration or drooping of drywall in your home?
• Is there paint peeling off surfaces that resemble damage from dampness?
• Have you spotted patterned, maze-like formations on the surface of the wood and furniture in your home?
• Can you spot tiny, pinpoint-sized holes in drywall?
• Is the wood in your home damaged and crumbling?
• Does the wood and the furniture in your house sound hollow when you tap it?
• Are the floorboards noticeably more squeaky when stepped on?
• Are the doors and window frames becoming jammed or stuck?
• Can you spot piles of small wings that have been left behind by termite swarms?
• Have you spotted winged termite swarms anywhere?
• Are the floorboards buckling under your weight?
• Are the tiles loosening from the wall due to added moisture in your home?
• Are there any mud tubes you can spot climbing up the foundations of your building?

If you have spotted any of these signs, it may be time to call for the professionals and hope that the termites have been spotted before they created any major damage.

Remember, when it comes to a termite infestation, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The cost of a pest control check will always be less than the damage caused by a long-developed infestation of subterranean or drywood termites.

Termite Control Services Will be Best at Spotting Termites and their Location

Unless you are an expert, discovering where termites are in your home can be a tall order. For this reason, it is important that you call in the professionals. A pest control service will quickly be able to spot the areas in your home where termites are and will know which treatments to apply to the area.

If you have suspicions that termites have infested your home or have spotted a few telltale signs, you should contact a professional service as soon as possible. This will help you to make sure the termites are dealt with quickly and damage-repair costs are kept to the bare minimum.

Contact Big Bug Pest Control now to learn how our experts can quickly remove drywood termites, dampwood termites, and subterranean termites along with a whole host of other pests in South Africa.

Quick, affordable, and effective, our service will rid you of your termite problem and identify what needs to be done to make sure that they don’t return.

How to Avoid Termite Infestation

Once you have hired expert pest control and gotten rid of your current infestation of termites, you will want to know what to do to make sure that they don’t come back!

Although there is no 100% safeguard, there are certain things you can do in your home and on the property to make sure the chances of termites returning are slimmer.

Keep Wood From Direct Contact with the Ground

As we discussed above, subterranean termites often burrow up from the soil in search of food. If you have wooden components on your building in direct contact with the soil, their job is made a lot easier!

Direct contact of wood to the soil gives termites easy access to a food source, and shelter and provides them with an entry point to your building. So you may need to take some steps to protect your building from further infestations by adjusting your current garden layout.

If you have wooden door frames, window frames, and wood siding in your home, these should be at least six inches above the surrounding earth. You may need to rethink how close you have soil beds to the foundations, whether you want to remove or shorten lattice work and make sure that you don’t have mulch or earth too near to wooden steps or patios.

Take Steps to Avoid Moisture Building Near Foundations

Moist areas are the natural habitat of termite colonies and they are likely to infest if the soil next to your foundations is damp.

You can take steps such as making sure that water is properly diverted away from the building by pipes, guttering, and downspouts. You should also make sure to keep an eye out for any leaking taps or units.

The ground next to your foundation can also be sloped to make sure that water runs away from the house and not towards it. This may seem like an expensive fix, but it will help to ensure you don’t have to deal with any of the structural problems related to damp foundations as well as protect you against pests!

Reduce the Levels of Humidity in Your Crawl Spaces

Termites gravitate to warm, humid spots and that can mean that they may be attracted to your crawl spaces if they are not properly ventilated.

To reduce humidity levels, you can consider adding more vents to your crawl space. You should also make sure that the vents are not blocked by any plants or flowers growing nearby.

You can also try placing a soil cover under your home to reduce vapor rising from the earth and hitting your subfloors.

Keep Your Firewood and Cardboard Out of Your Crawl Space

Although it may seem convenient, stacking firewood and related materials inside your crawlspace provides a food source for termites and can also enable them to climb and enter your house.

You should also avoid stacking wood next to the foundations of your home for the same reason.

Try not to use Mulch Directly Around the Building

If you have already had a problem with termites in your home, you should consider whether you want your landscaping mulch to remain near your property.

This material provides a haven for termites because it retains high moisture levels and shelters them. They are unlikely to eat mulch, however, as it has poor nutritional value compared to their preferred type of food.

Consider swapping your mulch out for gravel or small stones. If you want to keep mulch in your garden, make sure that you keep it away from entry points into the building.

Consult the Pest Control Experts for Professional Home Treatments

A professional pest control service in South Africa will be able to tell you exactly what7 you need to do in your home to make it harder for termites to return. They will also be able to treat your home with a termiticide, a process that should be repeated annually and is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t have to deal with termites and other pests next year.

Why Do Termites Lose Their Wings?

As we discussed above, one of the tell-tale signs that termites are around is when you spot their discarded wings after a swarm.

You may spot a termite swarm either inside or outside your home if you have an infestation. This takes place when termites in the colony have matured and are ready to leave and start new nests of their own.

Soon after these termites fly away from the nest, they will shed their wings. You may notice piles of termite wings on your window sills, by your house foundations, or collected up in spider webs.

When Do Termites Swarm?

The occurrence of termite swarms will typically be once or twice a year, during the spring and autumn in South Africa. Exactly when termites swarm can depend on the species of termite and when prime weather conditions arise. Termites usually swarm in the morning or afternoon, so this sign of an infestation is easy to miss for those who work a 9 to 5 job.

What is a Termite Mud Tube?

A mud tube is a tunnel that subterranean termites build to provide them with a path from their colony nest and their source of food. They are created from minute pieces of wood, debris, and soil.

Where can You Find More Help in Controlling Termites in South Africa?

If you need help with getting control of termite infestations in your home, then it is always best to call in an expert Pest Control service. The time wasted on ineffective home remedies could prove very costly in terms of the damage these destructive insects can wreak on the wood in your home.

Big Bug Pest Control is the industry leader in providing quick, affordable, and effective methods to get rid of termite infestations in South Africa. Contact us today to discover how our experts can free your home from termites and make sure that the steps are taken so they don’t return.

Call us today for a no-obligation quote to get rid of subterranean termites, drywood termites, dampwood termites, and all other pests you may be struggling with.

Summary: Termites and Termite Control- What You Need to Know

Dealing with a colony of termites in your house can be worrying, frustrating, and costly. These destructive insects can cause a great deal of damage and can be tricky to spot before it is too late. But there are some warning signs.

Take a look at our list of signs of termites above and the things you can do around the home to stop an infestation to make sure you keep on top of this problem in the future.

If you are dealing with termites in your home, the quickest and most effective way to solve the problem is to contact the experts. An experienced pest control service in South Africa will be able to locate the sources of your problem, rid you of the pests, and let you know what you need to do to make sure that termites don’t return again the next year.

Some Fascinating Facts About Termites

Now that you’ve read our article above, we think you’ll agree that although destructive to homes, termites are pretty fascinating creatures! Here are some fascinating facts about termites that you may enjoy!

• There are 2,700 termite species around the world, it is claimed that they form 10% of all animal biomass.
• Ants are the main predator and competitor for termites and can battle it out over territories and food sources.
• Each year, millions of rand are spent on repairing the damage termites have created in homes and buildings.
• Termites are rich in calcium, iron, and amino acids and can be eaten as a nutritious food!
• Termites are always at work and never sleep.
• Termite Queens can live up to 50 years!
• In tropical areas, termites build their nests and colonies vertically. These can reach heights of 30 feet.
• Worker termites feed the soldier and king and queen termites by regurgitating food into their mouths.
• Queen termites have been known to produce literally millions of eggs each year. Some can lay between fifteen and twenty-five each minute!
• The biggest colony of termites recorded was discovered to contain over three million insects!
• Termites live in a strictly structured society with different termites responsible for different roles within the colony.
• Termites spend a lot of time grooming and cleansing each other which prevents diseases from spreading through the colony.
• The termite queen decides which form of termites her young will grow into by feeding them pheromones to determine their development.
• Termites communicate with each other by tapping their heads against tunnel walls, creating vibrations that can be felt by other termites.
• They communicate with pheromones. Termites secrete pheromones from glands that are on their chest. These pheromones can be used to communicate with other termites.
• It is thought that some species of termite have been on earth for millions of years.
• If you were to weigh the mass of every termite on earth on a scale, they would outweigh the combined weight of every single human!
• Termites are often referred to as “silent destroyers” for their ability to damage wood, brickwork, and other material while remaining undetected.

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