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Termites: Definition, Identification and Elimination

Termites are commonly known as the ‘destroyer’. They can cause severe damages to wood, furniture and any plant-based materials that contain cellulose, their primary food. Termite’s chewing mouthparts are designed to tear woods into tiny pieces while protozoans found in their digestive tracts help them digest the cellulose consumed.
 

Characteristics

  • Color: Pale
  • Body: Elongated, 6-legged
  • Wings: Winged in reproductive castes (shed after mating)
  • Mouth: Mandibulate (Chewing)
  • Antennae: Long, Monoliform (bead-like)
  • Movement: Crawling, Flying (alate)
  • Lifecycle: Incomplete metamorphosis (Hemimetabolous)

Common species:

  • Coptotermes travians (underground)
  • Coptoptermes kalshovani (underground)
  • Coptotermes curvignathus (underground)
  • Macrotermes gilvus (mound)

Habits

Termites are a social insect living in a colony that comes with 3 different departments; a queen, workers and soldiers. They build mud tunnels to connect their nest to food sources. The tunnels are made of moistened soils to protect themselves from being exposed and dehydrated to outside climate.

Life Cycle

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Presence of Swarmers (wings are shed)

A queen will lay millions of eggs in her lifetime. After about two weeks incubation period, the eggs hatch into nymphs. They are fed by the workers. The nymphs then moult into workers. When they are mature enough, they will differentiate themselves into workers, soldiers or reproductive. The colony will grow and the nest will expand from time to time. As the foraging area expands, the colony will split into several small ‘nesting sites’.

Eggs

Termite eggs are small, white, translucent and ovoid in shape. The eggs are large enough to be visible by naked eyes. A newly developed queen can lay two dozens of eggs in her first breed. Eggs are laid and stored in the underground nest and are rarely be seen by humans.

Nymphs

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Presence of Mud Tubes

Within a few weeks, the eggs hatch into small nymphs. They will undergo several moulting stages and will evolve into other members of the colony’s castes.

Workers

Workers are responsible for constructing tunnels and chambers as well as feeding and grooming other termite castes. They are the most numerous and the most destructive members.

Soldiers

Termite soldiers are yellow-brown in colour. They have a large head and very strong mandibles. The characteristics are very useful to protect the colony.

Reproductive alates

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Termite damage sign: Bubbled and Cracked Paints

Alates are darker in colour and are born with two pairs of wings. They are sexually reproductive and will swarm out of the nest to establish a new colony. They are poor fliers that move only a few yards from the emergence spot. After they found a suitable place, they will mate during flight and shed their wings. A king and a queen will be established to manage the newly born colonies. The king and the queen are responsible for reproduction.

Signs of infestations

  • The presence of irregular pattern of
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    Appearance of Live Termites

    mud tubes

  • The appearance of swarmers near light sources
  • The presence of hollow-sounding woods when tapped
  • The presence of bubbled and cracked paint
  • The appearance of live termites
  • The presence of ticking sounds over infected woods

Ridpest Termite Control

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IG Station with Wooden Stakes

Ridpest uses a very effective approach in managing termites known as Termite Baiting System. This method is a proven, long-term protection against termite damages. The system works effectively in 6 steps;

  1. Termites are fed with slow acting toxicant termite baits.
  2. Worker termites consume the bait and bring back the baits to feed the entire colony including the queen. The feeding process is known as trophallaxis.
  3. These baits contain a special active ingredient known as insect growth regulators (IGR) which prevents the termites to shed their exoskeleton while growing up.
  4. Numerous of termites die due to inability to moult. The environment yet will be unfavourable.
  5. Termite queen will eventually die when no worker termites bring foods to feed her.
  6. When the queen dies, the entire colony will be disintegrated.

There are two types of baiting system; in-ground (IG) and above-ground (AG):

In-Ground Baiting Station

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IG Station with Wooden Stakes

In-ground stations are outdoor stations established in the ground along the perimeter of infected premise areas. Wooden stakes are put inside a plastic cylindrical holder and buried in the ground. The holder have openings for termites to access. The holders come with the removable cover for regular termite inspection by technicians. Once the woods infested by active termites, the woods are replaced with termite baits. The baits are replaced at intervals until there is no sign of active termites feeding on the baits.

Above-Ground Baiting Station

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AG Station

Above ground stations are indoor stations established inside premise where there is the possibility of infestation area. The rectangular stations are glued on the infected wooden wall. Toxicant baits inside a plastic bag are moistened and holes are pricked for termites to access the baits. The stations are sealed to prevent access of other insects such as ants. The baits are replaced at intervals until there is no sign of active termites feeding on the baits.

Ridpest Soil Treatment

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AG Bait

The other approach by Ridpest is using insecticidal barriers where soils are treated with insecticides. Due to rain and sunlight, the insecticides are rapidly downgraded. However, in housing or buildings, the concrete floor will make the insecticidal activity last longer. There are two types of soil treatment;

  1. Pre-Construction Soil Treatment
    Pre-construction treatment involves creating a chemical barrier under building structures. The foundation of the buildings will be sprayed and treated with termite repellent.
  2. Post-Construction Soil TreatmentSeveral holes are drilled 1.5 feet depth and 1.5 – 2 feet apart on the concrete floor all along the perimeter of the premise. Diluted termiticides will be injected 5L into the holes thus forming a chemical barrier underneath the buildings. All holes are then patched up with cement.

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