Subterranean termites live in colonies under the soil. A mature colony can range from 20,000 workers to as high as 5 million workers and the primary queen of the colony lays 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per day to add to this total. They feed on cellulose material such as the structural wood in buildings, wooden fixtures, paper, books, and cotton. The termites in the colony are generally organized into the worker caste, the soldier caste, and the reproductive caste.

In this column we shall only talk about the worker caste. Workers are about 3 mm long and are blind, wingless, soft-bodied, creamy white to grayish-white with a round head. They make up the majority of the termites that actually eat the wood. They are sterile and forage for food and water, construct and repair shelter tubes, feed and groom other termites, care for eggs and young, and participate in colony defense.

Hence it is the worker caste that lives the colony and enters our homes to forage for food, thus causing destruction worth thousands or even lakhs of rupees.

Termite Control

There are two major methods of termite control. You can use liquid termite insecticides (termiticides) for barrier and soil treatment or use termite baits. Some people choose both options.

Chemical Treatment
treatment involves drilling holes of 10mm diameter at the junction of wall and floor every 12 inches apart and injecting termiticide to form a continuous layer. There are two types of termiticides available in India, viz., repellent and non-repellent.

Repellent pesticides only prevent the termites from entering your structure. In case if there is a break in the layer of termiticide that is placed at the junction of wall and floor, then there a high possibility of termites reentering the structure.

With "repellant" termiticides, even the smallest gap in the treated area can be detected and exploited by the termites to gain entry in the structure. They will find ways around it. The use of a repellent termite chemical is a major short-coming in the traditional chemicals used for termite control.

Imidachloprid and Fipronil are two non-repellent insecticides, meaning they are undetectable by termites. The termites can't see, smell, taste or avoid them. Hence can do control termites better

Termite Baiting
Baiting termites is an excellent method of controlling termites. When an entire structure is to be treated, we recommend the baiting method.

A termite bait is nothing but wood particles treated with a low toxin. Termite baits can be placed within walls or buried in the soil. Termite baiting works by killing the workers in the termite colony. When the worker termites have been eliminated, the colony is starved of food and goes into a suppression phase or "decline". The reproductives, queens and soldiers die of starvation because they cannot feed themselves. When the queens and reproductives cannot eat because there are no workers to feed them, they die and the termite colony starves and is virtually eliminated.

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