A colony of termites can reduce big buildings to dust in no time, says Madhumita Srinivasan

These workers can take on the big guns. Though it sounds like the metaphoric summary of a movie plot, in the real world, it is a problem that many home-owners face. The termite colony’s working class can be relentless and quick in damaging your furniture, beams, panelling, and partitions… anything that’s wooden.

The major culprits are the subterranean termites, which “live below the ground and construct mud tubes from the nest to the food source — these tubes are a sure sign of infestation,” says the Pest Control India (PCI) website.

“Termite-infestation is a regular affair for which we get calls throughout the year,” says Suneel Joshi, Assistant General Manager, Technical Training, PCI. He explains the termites’ temptations: “Sap wood is most prone to termite attacks as it is softer and retains moisture. It’s the peripheral layer of a tree that is not mature yet and transports water from the roots to the rest of the tree. Core wood which is harder and adds strength to the tree is less prone to attack, provided it is allowed to mature enough.”

Basically any sort of wood can tempt termites. But being an undercover inside-out job, the infestation can be hard to notice unless any sign of damage starts appearing on the external surface — which can take years — by which time the damage has gone too far and will need intervention.

Major damage can be prevented if you learn to look for the signs. Vishal Malhan, Chief of Marketing in the Fevicol Division of Pidilite Industries shares some tips:

“If you notice a swarming of termites, especially during the pre-monsoon season, or the presence of hundreds of discarded wings, then you should be cautious that a fully developed colony is close by. Then come the mud tubes running along or coming out of cracks in walls, ceiling, or flooring.” If you have managed to identify it early enough, an anti-termite solution (eco-friendly options are also available) applied directly on the affected area should do the trick. But a large-scale infestation demands that you call in expert pest controllers to do the job for you.