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Tackling termites

Often wrongly referred to as ‘white ants’, there is a lot about termites that most people are not aware of. Termites are in fact more closely related to cockroaches and have been on earth for over 250 million years. They are regarded as detrivores, or detritus (debris) feeders. They feed on dead plants and trees as well as dead parts of living trees, including wood and wood in the soil.

Their ability to work unnoticed can lead you to be off your guard, but termites have a proven reputation for the vast devastation they are capable of causing in households. There is a very methodical manner in which termites go about their business, starting from the formation of colonies. And once a termite infestation has been identified, it can be difficult to determine how long the colony has been established in the home.

Classified into three groups — Damp wood Termites, Dry wood Termites and Subterranean Termites — they are capable of causing damage worth billions of dollars each year by eating away at the wood in homes, from roofs down to foundations.

The most destructive of the three are the Subterranean Termites who are capable of severely damaging timbers within a house in just three months. Subterranean Termites form their homes in the soil where they are structured into colonies comprising king, queen, workers and soldiers. Through tunnel, they look for a food source and the moment they have access, there is no limit to the scale of damage they are capable of causing.

Termites thrive in warm, moist and dark areas and a sight you would have witnessed during the monsoons is that of winged termites swarming around windows and doors. They are highly attracted to bulbs and other sources of light and are called reproductive termites. Once a colony has matured, these reproductive termites fly out, discard their wings and after mating, they identify a new breeding site with the specific aim of creating another colony. In this organised manner, they spread infestations in numerous locations.

Anti-termite solutions

Usage of anti-termite solutions like Terminator can help eradicate termite infestation. Besides its efficiency, it does not have any toxic formulation, making it an eco-friendly product.

It is also a good preventive measure to regularly check for mud tunnels or other signs of possible activity such as hollow timber or damp walls. Also, having your home undergo a termite inspection is one of the best preventive measures against large-scale termite infestation.

If you come across a termite colony, never attempt to get rid of it yourself as termites have the ability to quickly relocate to some other part of your home. It is best to contact a licensed pest controller immediately in order to adopt the best form of eradication.

It is important that such areas are pre-treated with sufficient quantity of an anti-termite solution so that termite attacks are prevented.

Some simple measures:

1) Eliminating moisture is a good start.

- It is therefore essential to repair any leaking pipes, shower recesses or rusty downpipes.

- Regular cleaning and maintenance of gutters will also ensure their proper and smooth functioning which will divert water away from the foundation.

- Get rid of stagnant water on the roof

2) Many of us are in the habit of storing wood and paper within our homes. It is best to get rid of any loose timber around the property. If it is necessary to store firewood, newspapers etc., these should be stored at a safe distance from your house.

3) It is also important to have a professional concrete contractor check the foundation for any cracks and get them fixed right away. This will prove effective in blocking termite access to your home in this manner.

4) The most vulnerable areas of wooden furniture are the sides that are fixed to the wall and are not visible to us on a daily basis, for e.g.

a. The side of wall units / wardrobes / cupboards / cabinets that are directly in touch with the wall.

b. Lower area cupboards / wardrobe shelves that are just above the flooring.

c. Wooden frames of doors and windows that are fixed into the wall.

(The author is Senior Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, Pidilite Industries)

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 9:04:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/tackling-termites/article6643275.ece

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