Termite control in buildings is very important as the damage likely to be caused by the termites is huge. Wood is one of the cellulosic materials which termites damage, cellulose forming their basic nutrient. They also damage materials of organic origin with a cellulosic base, household articles like furniture, furnishings, clothing, stationery etc. Termites are also known to damage non-cellulosic substances in their search for food. Rubber, leather, plastics, neoprene as well as lead coating used for covering of underground cables are damaged by termites. The widespread damage by termites, high constructional cost of buildings have necessitated evolving suitable measures for preventing access of termites to buildings.
On the basis of their habitat, termites are divided into two types, namely (a) Subterranean or ground nesting termites, and (b) Non-subterranean or wood nesting termites having no contact with soil. The subterranean termites are most destructive and are mainly responsible for the damage caused in buildings. Typically, they form nests or colonies underground in the soil, near ground level in a stump or in other suitable piece of timber, and some species may construct a conical or dome shaped mound. These colonies may persist for many years and, as they mature, contain a population running into millions. All attacks by subterranean termites originate from the nest but woodwork of the building may be reached by means of shelter tubes constructed within. Chemical barriers which prevent the termites from reaching the super structure of the building will protect the building and its contents. Treating the soil beneath the building and around the foundations with a soil insecticide is a good preventing measure which is attracting attention throughout the world. The purpose of this treatment is to create a chemical barrier between the ground from where the termites come and woodwork, cellulosic materials and other contents of the building which may form food for the termites.
A termite control technician must be able to find out the existence of termites in a building. A certain amount of technical knowledge and experience is necessary to determine if there is a termite infestation in a building, particularly in the early stages when the attack has just started or it is confined to remote locations in the building. The technician should know the habits of termite in general, the manner in which they work, the places where they are likely to be found and the signs which go to show that they are present.
As subterranean termites emerge from the soil to seek entry into a building, the portions of the building in contact with or adjacent to the soil should be the first to be inspected. These would include the basement, ground floor, steps leading from the ground, columns, porches etc. Locations where there is dampness or where humid conditions prevail, such as bathrooms, lavatories, or other places where there are leaky pipes or drains are likely places of termite infestation. Woodwork at basement or ground floor level, particularly in damp locations, should be examined. The places which demand careful scrutiny are the points where woodwork is embedded in the floor or in the wall as termites seek entry through crevices in the concrete or brickwork in which the wooden frames are fixed.
The signs of presence of termites in a building are the tell-tale shelter tubes which are termite runways. As termites have soft bodies which cannot withstand the drying effects of air, they move about in sheltered mud tubes which they build when they have to cross open surfaces which are exposed to the air. These are, therefore, not easily noticed and may go undetected except to the trained eye of an experienced termite control technician.
Termites work inside timber without breaking the surface. They are known to eat away a board completely leaving only the film of paint on the surface. If they break open the surface at any point accidently, they quickly seal it up, and their activity continues beneath the surface without detection. Woodwork in vulnerable locations should be carefully examined to find out if termites have attacked the wood. In the absence of any external signs of damage, the woodwork should be tapped to see if is hollow having been eaten up from inside.
This is a process in which chemical treatment is applied to an existing building to eliminate existing termite infestation and to make it resistant to termite attack. It consists of following stages: