Termites: who are they? Why are they hated in homes?


The termite measures less than a centimeter but is capable of causing damage considerable in the structure of buildings, such as furniture and joinery. Presentation of an insect xylophagus whose discovery and destruction are subject to regulation.

What does a termite look like?

Termites (Termitoidea), of which there are about 2,600 species are representatives of the order Blattoptera (Blattodea). Their whitish color earned them the nickname of white ants. The insect, which measures between 5 and 8 mm, carries a pair of antennae perpendicular to the axis of the body and six short, squat legs. Of great power, his mouthparts crushers are oriented towards the belly. According to their social function within the colony, termites are blind, sterile and / or wingless (wingless).

Distribution of termites

Of the 2,600 species recorded worldwide, the vast majority live in the regions tropical from Africa, the Far East, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Termites are also found in more temperate such as North America, Oceania, Japan, South and North Africa as well as Europe. In France, six species termites are recognized: five are underground (Reticulitermes) and the sixth (Kalotermes flavicollis) is said to be “dry wood”.

Subterranean termites: the most formidable

The six species of termites identified in the hexagon are divided into two types :

  • Termites underground live in the soil of dwellings, go up and then feed on the wood used in the buildings. Their ideal living conditions meet four criteria: darkness, humidity, heat and poor maintenance of the premises and its surroundings;
  • Termites dry wood are not considered to be truly harmful because they are confined to natural environments and their colonies have relatively few individuals

Termites, social insects

Termites are called social insects because they live in colonies organized in which each individual plays a precise role according to his caste :

  • The Queen occupies a royal room in the center of the termite mound. Larger member of the colony, she surrounds herself with a king with whom she mates, soldiers and workers who defend and feed her.
  • The soldiers, with a big head and powerful jaws, defend the colony against ants and other invaders. They are blind and wingless.
  • The workers carry out all the tasks of the colony: they build, maintain the termite mound and galleries, look for food and bring it to the members of the group. They are sterile, blind and wingless.
  • The breeders appear when a colony has reached a certain population density. These individuals develop wings and at sexual maturity, leave the group in order to give birth to new colonies.

Damage caused by termites

As seen above, termites live in the ground and feed on wood (and its derivatives) that they find in nature or in homes. This species lucifuge (which flees the day) digs its galleries discreetly at night, nibbles the interior of the wood, thus leaving its area intact. Termites attack frames, floors, door frames and even furniture. Generally, their presence is detected when the damage is already well advanced. Namely that these xylophagous insects can also attack carpets, rugs, plastic, PVC, light metals and electric cables.

Knowing how to detect the presence of termites

The most effective method of detecting the presence of termites is to probe wood.

  • Start with theoutside of the House. With a thin and pointed object, scrape everything that is wooden in the garden: stumps, fence posts, piles of logs, decaying planks … If the material s’crumbles, there may be an infestation;
  • Watch for the presence offeces. They look like small balls of sawdust and could appear near walls and other termite gathering places;
  • Look for earth tubes on the walls. Called cords, these tubes are constructed as protection against predators and light. They have a clayey appearance and a brown color;
  • In the home, probe the parquet floors and joinery. Does the wood appear hollow or very soft? Then an invasion is possible. If the floor and ceiling sag, the damage is already serious. The painting flaking is also an indicator;
  • Listen up because the soldiers are noise often banging their heads inside the walls.

Termites: regulatory obligations

Of risk areas were defined by the public authorities. Faced with the significant damage produced by the xylophagous insect which can threaten the solidity of the constructions, regulatory measures have been taken and their non-compliance sanctioned by fine.

  • When you find out termites in your home (including in areas not contaminated), you are required to make a declaration to the municipality;
  • In sectors where termite foci are identified, the mayor can oblige the owner or the co-ownership trustee to have a diagnostic ;
  • If the presence of termites is confirmed by the diagnosis, the owner or the condominium manager must have repair work carried out.eradication within a time limit set by the town hall;
  • In infested areas, the municipality is entitled to determine areas where owners have the obligation to treat their house.

Termite treatment

If you have detected a termite invasion in your home, contact aextermination quickly, within a maximum of three months after discovery. Do not hesitate to play the competition by asking for several quotes. Take into account the price but also the benefits. Discuss the options eradication with the professional. The infestation is usually treated with pesticides. As such, verify that the company has the certification Certibiocide, mandatory to use this type of product, as well as the authorization for work in height if the frame is affected. If the use of products chemical bothers you, other options are possible such as treatment with traps or by hot air. In any case, do not risk solving the problem on your own because the treatment – to be truly effective – requires skills specific.

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