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TERMITES INFO

Wood destroying insects and organisms are a concern in any home with a wooden structure or components. Failure to properly identify and deal with the presence of wood destroying insects and organisms can lead to damage to the structure and other wooden components of the house and create the need for expensive repairs.


Termites are social insects and practice caste system, which consists of queen, king, soldier, worker, alate (winged reproductive) and immature (nymphs and eggs). Each of the castes shares similar body form and specific tasks. Queen will be the main egg-laying ant while the soldiers defend the colony from enemies or intruders. Alates will go for swarming in order to mate and then start a new colony. Workers are the busiest where they will need to maintain, construct and repair the nest, forage and feed other colony members.

Termites live in colonies and the nests are usually located underground, in wood or in trees. They feed mostly on cellulose based material or wood by-products. Termites can be grouped under 3 categories based on the location of their colony: subterranean termite, dry wood termite and damp wood termite. For subterranean termites, they build their nest under the soil and are highly dependent on moisture. Besides that, they construct mud tubes or tunnels to prevent desiccation while foraging for food. Dry wood termites are able to survive under low moisture condition and faecal pellets could be seen near the infestation area. Damp wood termites prefer to feed on decayed wood structure such as tree bark, rotten root and buried timbers.

SPECIES

Currently, there are about 2,500 identified species worldwide with thousands of species found in Malaysia. However, only a small portion of them are pests to buildings and structures. The most common and economically important termites belong to the subterranean species especially the Coptotermes sp. and Schedorhinotermes sp. with the former being the most destructive species causing about 90% termite related damages to the buildings in Malaysia.

Other species such as Macrotermes sp., Microtermes sp., Globitermes sp. and Nasutitermes sp. are also often encountered in our living environment and usually regarded as garden termites due to their activities are mostly at the compound or outdoor area. Termites usually gain entrance into building through cracks and crevices, following the electrical or pipeline system. It is estimated that multi millions were being spent each year in Malaysia on termite management and the total repair cost of damage is approximately two to three fold of the total control cost.