A bug, a pest, an insect. Call termites whatever you want but one fact remains: if you have them, you have a problem. Unyielding, intelligent, and highly destructive, a termite infestation can take the structure of your dreams and leave it in shambles. But, having termites is not the end of the world. There are ways to outsmart them, before they leave you homeless.

What is a termite?

Sometimes referred to as white ants, termites are social insects who feed mainly on wood, soil, and leaves. There is believed to be approximately 4,000 species of termite, with 400 species being particularly destructive to structures. Like bees and ants, termites work together to perpetuate survival. Usually a colony of termites is filled with nymphs, soldiers, workers, reproducers of both genders, and the queens.

How can termites be avoided?

The simplest way to avoid termites it not to build a structure made out of things they feed on. Concrete and steel, for instance, aren't items on the termite's menu. Still, don't underestimate termites: some of them can be quite clever. They have occasionally been found chewing through pipes made of plastic and pipes made of lead. For this reason, termite barriers must be set up. In structures that already exist, poisoned soil or poisoned plastic are often used as barriers. In new structures, however, barriers are often physical, using concrete, steel, and other materials to seal off any potential termite entry.

What is timber treatment?

Timber treatment is wood preservation. This preservation can be both chemical and structural and is used to help prolong the life and health of wood. Timber treatment helps wood survive weather, fungus, and insects. Timber treatment can help make wood less appetizing to termites.

Above and beyond timber treatment, there are certain types of wood that termites naturally avoid. In particular, timber that comes from the Turpentine Tree (Canarium Australianum), the White Cypress tree (Callitris Glaucophylla), or the species of Sequoias are naturally termite resistant. However, though they are resistant as a whole, there may be parts of them susceptible to an occasional attack.

What if termites have already invaded?

If a termite problem already exists, the first thing that must be done is a seek and destroy mission: find the termite colony and douse it with insecticides. Nowadays, the insecticides are usually slow acting toxins that destroy the insects with minimum damage to the environment.

Once the colony is destroyed, it's important to find out two things: why the termites were attracted to this structure and how they got in. By knowing why they were attracted, you can help understand your structure's weakness. By knowing how they got in, you can learn where to place you barriers so that termites - in a term - quit bugging you.