Killem Pest Profile Series: What You Need to Know About Termites

what you need to know about termites

Are Termites Dangerous?

Termites are dangerous as they are able to weaken the structure of buildings!

The Most Economically Destructive Pest

In our previous posts, we mentioned the different treatments that can be carried out to prevent termite infestations. Some of the more common methods include soil treatment, corrective soil treatment, rodding, baiting and dusting.

Common Questions About Termites

Are termites harmful?

Termites are the most economically destructive pests.

In the US alone, it is estimated that termite infestations cause US$30 billion in damage to crops and manmade structures.

In addition to the high economic costs involved with termite damage, the structural damage caused to buildings, ceilings and furniture is also a danger to humans.

Will termites bite humans?

Following on from above, termites feed on cellulose and are not known to bite humans or even other insects (although ants are the natural enemy of termites). Nevertheless, if the termite colony has no other sources of food or if the colony is threatened, termites may on the rare occasion bite humans. The bite is like a pinch, but the pinches are not believed to result in any illnesses or disease in humans.

The Ultimate Guide to Termite Pest Prevention, Treatment and Control in Singapore

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wood stack

How to Tell If Termites Are Active in Your House

As we know, termites love eating wooden structures. It can be hard to spot a termite before structural damage is done. However, there are some signs to know if termites are active in your house:

  • Termite droppings
  • Termite wings lying around
  • Weakened wood structures such as doors and shelves
  • Unknown noises

Termites prefer dark and moist environments, so it can be helpful to look around your house with a flashlight to see if termites are active.

Can termites eat through concrete?

Termites feed on cellulose, which is an organic compound in the cell walls of plants and that wood is made off.

Termites do not eat concrete, however they are very resourceful and will squeeze through tiny cracks and thus opening up poor quality concrete for more termites to get through.

Once termites are inside, they build tunnels which get wider over time and therefore it appears like they have eaten through the concrete.

Pro Tip: To prevent termites from entering your home, seal all cracks, crevices and joints inside your house.

Lifecycle of Termites

There are few physical differences between the workers and nymphs of the different species. As such, termite identification is based on the soldiers or alates as well as the damage that is left behind.

Dampwood soldiers can be as large as 20mm and have large mouthparts on the front.

Drywood soldiers have large mouthparts with teeth and are larger than those of subterranean colonies.

Subterranean soldiers are creamy white in colour, but their head is often brown. They do not have wings and have large mouthparts.

Termite Lifecycle

Why do termites shed their wings?

One of the unique rituals termites do is the shedding of wings. This is part of the mating ritual of termites. The ritual plays out during the termite swarming season. As termites take flight, they start discarding their wings in order to form termites colonies. Once they shed their wings, termites cannot fly any longer. They then start to mate on the ground.

Why do termites swarm?

Termites swarm for a specific reason: Mating. In warm climates such as in Singapore, termites swarm to mate and form new colonies. The swarming helps the termites find a mating partner.

termites reproducing facts

What is a termite mud tube?

A termite mud tube is a highly advanced and sophisticated system. Termites create these mud tubes in wood structures as a way to travel around freely. The termite mud tubes keep the termites safe and provide them access to food and shelter. Never remove mud tubes by yourself, as it will lead the termites to seek out other places to create new mud tubes. Always contact a pest control professional to do a proper termite infestation treatment.

What do termite droppings look like?

Termite droppings are one of the signs of a termite infestation. How can you spot termite droppings? The droppings are tiny, usually just one millimeter in length. They have a brown colour and can often be seen along walls or near any wooden structures. If you notice termite droppings, make sure to contact a pest treatment professional.

What are the main types of termites?

Drywood Termites – These termites do not like moisture and typically live in wood such as dead trees, structural timbers of hardwood floors. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not need contact with the soil as wood is sufficient.

Dampwood Termites – These termites live in wood with high moisture content such as decaying wood and trees that can be found on the ground.

Subterranean Termites – These are the most common species of termites in Singapore and require three things: food (wood or cellulose material), a consistent source of moisture and a moderate to tropical environment. They can be found in structural timbers in buildings and in soil greenery outdoors. These termites will build their nests underground.

More about drywood and subterranean termites

Below are examples of the kind of damage Subterranean Termites can cause:

Subterranean Termite Infestation Wall Pipe

Subterranean Termite Infestation Wall Pipe

Tenacious termites

Termites are social insects and live in colonies. There are many ways that termites can enter a property. Some of these include coming in:

  • Through construction joints
  • Through wall joints and cracks
  • Through floor cracks and slab penetrations
  • Through plumbing and electricals

From our experience, we have even found termite trails at the 43rd story of a building!

For more information on how Killem can help eliminate your Termite problems please visit our termite control page.