- What are the different types of termites?
- Ways termites could enter your home
- Can termites harm us?
- Signs of termites
- Signs of termite damage
- Types of termite damage
- Professional pest control services for effective eradication
- Treatment options for different termite species
- Questions to ask about termite control
- Can I get a termite infestation from my neighbour?
- What can I do to minimise termites from surfacing
- Working with your termite specialist to ensure optimal efficacy
Part 1: Essential facts of termites you need to know
What are the different types of termites?
Termites are small insects, and look like white ‘ants’, however, these pests are not similar at all. Here are the differences between termites and ants:
|Broad waist||Narrow, pinched waist|
|Straight antennae (feelers)||Bent antennae (feelers)|
|Wings are of equal size||Wings are of different sizes|
|Consume cellulose-containing items||Consume carbohydrates and proteins|
|Attracted to wood and high moisture||Attracted to moisture and presence of food matter|
The two most common species found in Singapore are the Drywood termite and the Subterranean termite.
As their name suggests, the Drywood termite inhabits dry wood material above the ground. They make their colonies in dry wooden materials like doors, window frames, door frames and furniture. They are drawn to areas with humidity, as they need moisture from leaky pipe, water heater or any other moisture source to survive.
Drywood termites and subterranean termites can look very similar, but they are distinguishable by the trails they leave. Drywood termites leave trails of frass. Frass is termite faeces. While Subterranean termites use their faeces to construct their mud tunnels, Drywood termites have no use for theirs, and they remove their faeces by kicking it out of a special exit hole built for this purpose. From afar, frass can look like a small pile of sawdust. Through a closer inspection, you will see tiny grains of different-coloured pellets in the frass.
Unlike Drywood termites, Subterranean termites build their colonies in the soil, made up of nests and an extravagant network of mud tunnels. This is because they draw their humidity and moisture from the soil to keep their nests and tunnels cool. Subterranean termites also consume softer, damper wood, and are found more easily in areas like the basement where it is closer to the ground, and tends to have higher moisture levels.
A characteristic of Subterranean termites is the appearance of mud tubes on the walls. These tubes are made of the mud, debris and their faeces used for transporting food without being seen. These mud tubes are brown in colour, spotted along the exterior and interior walls from the foundation of the home once they have eaten their way in.
Ways termites can enter your home
Termites can enter your home in a variety of ways. Here are four ways termites enter your home:
Tunnelling through the soil
Subterranean termites can enter your home by tunnelling underneath the soil up to your home’s foundations. From there, they will make mud tunnels up the exterior and interior of your home. They also find a weak spot or crack in your home and they will enter from there.
Wooden material or firewood outside your home
Wooden materials outside your home like cardboard boxes, old newspapers and planks of wood are appealing to termites. They contain cellulose, and are easier for termites to consume. Apart from termites, these items are also immensely attractive to other pests like cockroaches, rats and ants as they are a source of food and shelter for them. Prevent your home from attracting termites and being a pest haven by keeping the exteriors of your house clutter-free and maintaining non-decayed wood.
Gaps and cracks around your home
No home is pest-proof, regardless of the precautions taken. Termites are tiny creatures, and are able to navigate through any gap or crack, no matter how small it is. Safeguard your home by doing routine checks and maintenance on your home, especially a professional termite inspection on its foundation. Seal and caulk any visible cracks spotted to prevent it from being a termite’s gateway into your home.
Transported into your home indirectly
Termites are transported into your home through old, recycled or infested furniture. They do not ‘hitchhike’ on humans like bed bugs, but on infested pieces of wood. If a piece of furniture happens to be infested with termites, it is often unnoticed until obvious signs of infestation appears.
Just like that, you could be exposing your family and your home to a severe termite infestation simply by unknowingly bringing home a piece of infested furniture. A small termite infestation in that furniture could potentially escalate into an even bigger one in your home, and could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to resolve. Avoid risking your family and property by refraining from bringing pieces of used/old wooden furniture home. Instead of beautifying your home, you might just ruin it.
Can termites harm us?
Yes. Termites cause harm to humans and structures. Similar to cockroaches, studies have found that the presence of termite frass, excretion and debris triggers conditions such as eczema, asthma and allergies.
As termites move through your house, they can also disturb any microscopic mold and mildew, kicking them up and dispersing them into the air. In addition, as they eat off the wood around the home, it weakens the home structure, thus potentially giving away and falling down onto us. Last but not least, the emotional and financial harm they can cause from the home destruction and replacements.
Signs of termites
Firstly, subterranean termites build mud tubes that are made of the termites’ faeces, wood debris and dirt. They use these tubes for shelter when they travel back and forth from the food source, preventing them from seen. Secondly, the presence of termite swarmers, or their discarded wings, indicate that the termites are full-grown and have flown out of their nest in search of a suitable environment and a mate. Thirdly, wood tunnels or ‘galleries’ that are a sign of a termite damage work, fourthly, you may notice hollow-sounding timber as termites eat through and hollow out the wood. As the wood is eaten away, there is only a thin layer of paint or wood left on the surface. This produces a hollow sound when tapped on.
Finally, an experience of tight-fitting doors and windows as termites tunnel through wooden doors and windows, they produce excrement and mud. This mud gathers in the tunnels and traps heat and moisture in the tunnels created. The heat causes the exterior wood to expand, which in turn makes it difficult to open or close the infested door or window. Above all, not forgetting the termite droppings, that is usually grainy and brown, and is often found in small piles along surfaces of window sills and door frames.
Signs of termite damage
Termites cause mainly structural and cosmetic damage. Because termites feed on wood from the inside, the damage is often unseen. When uncovered, the damage done is often severe and difficult, if not impossible to repair. Repair costs resulting from termite damage often run high due to the extensive damages and these costs are rarely covered by home insurance, adding to the financial burden these tiny critters cause.
Types of termite damage
Rentokil Initial shares a list of damages termite can cause from a termite infestation.
- Structural: Buckling, sagging floors, swollen ceilings and floor damage that appears to be ‘water damage’ with hollow-sounding walls
- Cosmetic: Piles of droppings that look like small mounds of sawdust, mud tubes running up the walls, peeling and bubbling paint and small entry holes in drywall
- Major risks that compromise the structural safety that endangers the property’s occupants
- Expenses due to lack of insurance coverage in reimbursing renovation, replacement and carpentry works. This is not forgetting the cost of lowered valuation and depreciation of the property.
Part 2: What to do if you have termites – termite treatment
Professional pest control services for effective eradication
It is vital that you seek proper, professional treatment to solve the issue and prevent the infestation from worsening.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) termite treatments like orange oil and boric acid may seem rather attractive, given that they are cheap, easy to access and carry out. However, these DIY treatments rarely ever effectively treat the infestation, and often just drive the termites to infest another area in the house, spreading and worsening the infestation as a result. Read here to find out whether or not you can treat termites by yourself.
Treatment options for different termite species
Rentokil offers different services for termite treatments, which are tailored to fit your unique needs.
Termite Monitoring Treatment
Termite monitoring stations are set up around the property to detect subterranean termite activity, and pest control specialists will routinely monitor those stations for activity. This treatment is more suited for preventive purposes, for businesses or homeowners who want to protect their property from potential infestations proactively, especially if the property is located in a high-risk termite area.
Termite Baiting Treatment
Termite baiting treatment is for treating subterranean termites. Bait stations are set up around the property with cellulose-containing material like wood, paper and cardboard. This bait contains ingredients that disrupt the termites’ growth, slowly killing off each termite that consumes the bait. As a result, the colony is unable to sustain itself and dies off.
Liquid Barrier Termiticide Treatment
Liquid termiticide is injected either before or after a construction of infrastructure. The termiticide slowly eliminates the termites and its colony through effective spreading of the active ingredient among one another. What it does is protect the home with termiticide application around the perimeter of the home, it halts the termites from further biting, and feeding that damages your home as a result.
Questions to ask about termite control
Here are five essential questions you should ask before engaging in termite control services:
- Any pre-treatment preparation work you should do before the specialist performs the service.
- Is there health and safety precautions or considerations you should take note of
- Any parts of the home or conditions that increase any treatment risks?
- What do we need to do next once the treatment is completed?
- How soon and effective can we expect the termite colony to be controlled?
Part 3: Termite prevention tips to prevent an infestation
Can I get a termite infestation from my neighbour?
Can you get termites from your neighbour? Yes, your home may be infested with termites that previously infested your neighbour’s home. Termites, especially subterranean termites, build their nests and colonies underground in the soil. They also travel upwards the levels or sideways from home to home.
Firstly, if you live on a landed property, your home might be at a higher risk, since your home is very near to the ground, and subsequently, a potential termite nest. Termites might move through their underground tunnels and reach your home. Secondly, to ensure your home is well protected against termites, consult and engage a pest control expert to take preventive action to protect your home. Thirdly, you can take steps to protect your home by moving any wooden items away from your home’s foundations. Finally, doing regular home repairs and maintenance, and keeping your home dry and moisture-free make your home less attractive to termites.
What can I do to minimise termites from surfacing
Termites are difficult to remove. Once an infestation sets in, getting rid termites takes a lot of time and effort. With termites, prevention is better than cure. Here are five ways to prevent your home from becoming a termite colony’s home. Read here for a complete guide to termite control.
- Remove wooden/cellulose debris and clutter near your home’s foundation, thus eliminating potential sources of food that could attract termites to your home.
- Do regular home maintenance such as fixing and sealing up potential entry points like gaps, cracks and crevices in your home to prevent termites from entering your home.
- Address those faulty and leaky plumbing to remove sources of moisture and water, which termites require high levels of moisture in their environment to survive.
- Avoid bringing in wooden furniture from external places that you are unable to ascertain its safety and quality. A seemingly harmless-looking second-hand wooden table could be infested with termites, and you would have no way of knowing until you detect termite damage
- Regularly monitor your home for potential termite hotspots that show signs of termite activity.
Working with your termite specialist to ensure optimal efficacy
Regardless of which pests you are eliminating and the treatments you engage in, pest management requires the effort of both the pest control experts and every individual. While the specialist can keep termite infestation at bay by eliminating the termite colony, the new colony can resurface due to the poor home management regime.
It is essential to engage in regular communication with the pest control company. This includes any potential or unusual signs of termite activity or changes to the environment and home conditions. On an ongoing basis, treatments include value added services by providing a list of service recommendations such as pest proofing or housekeeping for owners to adopt. Above all, regular updates and inspections on the condition of the infestation is reported to determine efficacy and results.
Contact Rentokil Singapore for a wide range of termite control services at 6347 8138 today.