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Termite is a scary word...

Termites are social insects, meaning that they live in colonies. When termites form a colony, or part of a colony is present in a structure, the structure is said to be infested. Because homeowners insurance typically does not cover termite damage, it is essential to detect termite infestation as soon as possible.
Be on the lookout for any of the following:
• Swarming termites, especially in spring when swarmers emerge from their nests and mate to begin new colonies. Winged termites can be distinguished from flying ants by their thick-waists, straight antennae and wings of equal size. Even if the actual swarming is not observed, the presence of discarded wings indicates that a colony is nearby. Broken-off wings are often found near doors or windows where the termites have been attracted to the light.
• Wood (floors, door and window frames, skirting boards, or even roof timber) that sounds hollow when tapped on. Termites feed on wood or other items that contain cellulose, such as paper, fibreboard, and some fabrics derived from cotton or plant fibres. Subterranean termites hollow out wood along the grain but the outer surface is usually left intact. You will find mud or soil underneath the very brittle exterior.
• Apparent water damage when water damage makes no sense. Termite damage can be similar in appearance and include swollen floors or ceilings, buckling windowsills, and bubbling paint or wallpaper.
• Termite droppings that look like sawdust. Faecal pellets are usually dry, smooth and powdery looking and can be many different colours. Unlike harvester termites, subterranean termites do not push wood particles or pellets (faecal material) to the outside, but rather use it in the construction of their tunnels.
• Mud tubes on exterior walls, generally the diameter of a pen. Although they nest in soil, subterranean termites can attack structures by building tubes that connect their nest to wood in structures. When opened up, you may see termites which have small, whitish translucent bodies. If you find no termites, it may be that they have abandoned that tube – it does not rule out infestation.
Some scary facts about termites are:
• The queen, the breeder of  a colony, can live up to 18 years.
• A mature colony will have a number of nesting and feeding sites, all connected by tunnels through the wood.
• A single colony can have millions of termites and spread across a half an acre.
• Termites never sleep - they are always eating, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ...
• Termite feeding can cause hundreds of thousands of rands of damage in a short period.
If you have any reason to suspect termite infestation, call in the experts to investigate, and have it professionally treated if any infestation is found. Treatment involves pesticides, skill and specialised equipment. This is one instance where a DIY job may be a very bad idea.

Published in: Linprop Newsletter

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