Termites are small insects that live in colonies and have distinct castes and feed on wood or other dead plant matter, occurring on every continent except Antarctica. Termites comprise the infraorder Isoptera, or alternatively the epifamily Termitoidae, within the order Blattodea.
Termites have been around for about 250 million years, making them an active contributor to our environment. They have soft bodies, pinchers and straight antennae. Colors range from white to light brown. Worker termites often appear lighter, while swarming termites are darker. There are about 50 different kinds of termite species, or more, and each of these species is categorized into one of three termite groups – subterranean, dampwood or drywood. Each termite group has distinctive environmental requirements and behaviors when it comes to whether or not they live in soil and where they construct their colonies.
Subterranean termite workers are the caste members that consume wood and they gain entrance into homes by building mud tubes that provide them a moist, protective passageway to get from one location to another. Workers generally gain access to houses by following their underground foraging tunnels, also known as exploratory tubes, to the foundation or underneath the house’s slab.
Causes of termites
Leaky pipes, improper drainage, and poor airflow all create moisture issues that attract termites. Dampwood and subterranean termites in particular thrive in humid environments. While dampwood termites prefer water-damaged wood, subterranean termites are unable to live unless surrounded by enough moisture.
Risks of termites
Termites are often called the "silent destroyers" because they may be secretly hiding and thriving in your house.
Termites cost Kenyans millions of shillings in damage each year, and most insurance plans don't cover the damage.
All termites consume cellulose-based plant materials. Unfortunately, all homes, regardless of their construction type, can provide cellulose food for termite infestation.
Some species of termite queens lay millions of eggs each year.
Destroyers of property
That’s what termites are!
Depending on the location and extent of the damage, and the building materials required to fix it, repairs can be complicated and costly. So catching the infestation early is important.
Common signs of termite infestation include sagging floors and ceilings, traces of dust similar to dust, piles of wings that resemble scales and areas that seem to be slightly water damaged. Contrary to popular belief, termites are not partial to aging wooden structures; they have been known to inhabit new buildings within a short time after construction.
However, although structural failure due to termite damage is not at all uncommon, it can be easily prevented through the use of regular inspections and treatments. Our trusted termite inspectors will provide two-part reports, outlining damage already present and potential causes and locations of future damage.
Areas with a high likelihood of infestation include damp areas, woodpiles and loose wooden paneling. Addressing these threats may prevent termite infestation and can save homeowners considerable money on structural repairs.
If your termite inspector finds superficial termite damage during an inspection, ask him or her about the extent of the damage. While you may see only a small amount of damage, there may be more damage beneath the surface. For example, if a hardwood floor is damaged, termites likely have infested the subfloor and floor supports beneath it.
Fixing termite damages, is it possible?
While you cannot get rid of termites permanently from the environment, you can help prevent them from taking root in your home and control any active colonies nearby.
Check areas around the home for damaged wood, cast-off wings around the floor, and shelter tubes.
Most homeowners don’t notice they have termites until the damage has become costly and tough to fix. Home termite damage is a serious issue. It often ruins the structural integrity of a home. Residents rarely have the chance to inspect hidden areas like wall voids, so the pests tunnel and eat their way through rafters and studs uncontested, leading to collapsed supports.
It is rare but possible for some termite species to damage a house beyond repair, if the infestation is left untreated for many years.
It is not common for termites to completely destroy a home before the activity is discovered by a homeowner. Once a colony grows to maturity, signs of activity typically become more visible. Periodic inspections by our trained professionals or any other licensed termite professionals can help homeowners detect termite infestations while damage is minimal and repairs are less expensive.
You can also follow these two golden “termite” rules:
- Treat termites before making repairs
- Prevent costly termite damage repairs
And the logic behind these two rules is rather obvious.