Are you noticing disturbing signs that something is eating your house? Are there little piles of sawdust around the edges of your windows or door jambs? Do you see troubling swarms of little flying beasts going in and out of the cracks in your floors? Well, the creature that’s eating your domicile is probably not some science fiction monster; instead, it’s a nest of insects that find wood very tasty, and they may be living deep inside your house…
Termites. There’s a good, objective online guide to dealing with termites, that’s provided by the University of Kentucky.
Termites themselves are a delicacy for anteaters, aardvarks, and chimpanzees living in the wilds. But rather than getting a pet aardvark in the hope that he or she will make a meal of the little buggers that are trying to make a meal of you, a better bet is to call a termite control specialist, and a good one is the Termite Control Network (http://www.termitecontrol.net). A firm specializing in termite control will know what chemicals to use and which ones to avoid, as some of the exterminating remedies on the market have caused dangerous reactions in humans.
Spring is the season when most infestations occur. “In Spring, a young man’s fancies lightly turn to thoughts of love…” Well, so do a young termite’s fancies. And for a termite, setting up housekeeping with one’s honey is best done in a delicious wooden structure, your house!
Termites are relatives of the cockroach, although this relationship seems to have been only recently established. Formerly they were part of the Isoptera order, but have been reclassified as members of the Termitoidae family, in the order Blattodea, along with cockroaches. Don’t expect your termites to be in the kitchen having family reunions with your cockroach colonies, though. The family relationship is only acknowledged by scientists, and the different culinary preferences of termites keep them in different parts of your house, far from their cucaracha cousins.
If your morbid curiosity drives you to have a look at the little critters in action, have a look at some of the YouTube videos on the subject, like this one from North Carolina, or this one from Texas. But before you click, think twice: these videos are not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.
Termites are “eusocial” creatures, which means that they live in colonies, with tasks for the group performed by different “castes” or types of individuals, workers, soldiers, queens, drone males, etc., very much like ants, bees, and some wasps. In rain forests, their activities are actually beneficial, believe it or not, as they are “detritivores”, recycling wood. It’s just that you don’t particularly want the wood of your house to be recycled, right?
So when you see signs of the little creatures, it’s a good idea to call or e-mail your pest control specialist without delay. Unless, of course, you don’t mind your house being eaten from under you.