Termites



The native species of subterranean termites in the okanagan are Reticulitermes. These termites thrive in the okanagan due to the climate. They are responsible for breaking down fallen trees, old stumps and other sources of cellulose. Unfortunately, they also invade wooden structures and if left uncontrolled, they will cause serious damage to buildings due to their feeding activity. In addition, other wood products such as boxes, the back of dry wall and furniture could be attacked.

The presence of termites in a building is cause for concern due to the cost of solving the problem and replacing all damaged wood and/or dry wall. The subterranean termite is a social insect. They live in colonies consisting of a few thousand to sometimes millions of termites. Each colony will include termites that are winged reproductive, workers, and solders. The winged reproductive termites emerge in a mass flight around April and June depending on the climate and possibly again in late summer. In the Okanagan the flight can happen as early as March These flights are often the first indication that homeowners have termites. Reproductives (winged termites) are 5-6mm long and are often mistaken for reproductive ants due to the similar looking black bodies and wings. To the untrained eye, after flight, the males and females will return to the earth lose their wings and look for a suitable site for a new colony in buried or damaged wood. The growth of a new colony is slow; however, additional egg-laying females are produced to help the rate of growth to excel. The larger colonies will sub divide if the food source is abundant. The reproductive adults don’t appear until the colony is 3 to 5 year old. The mass reproductive flight will happen every year. The worker termites are 6mm long and pale cream in color. I personally think they look like maggots. Soldier termites are the same size and color; however, their heads are enlarged with noticeable black jaws. The workers collect food and build distinctive shelter tubes.

Subterranean termites most commonly live in the soil where they can avoid extreme temperature changes. Subterranean termites construct numerous scattered nursery areas where reproductive termites are found with piles of eggs and the young. These nursery areas can be in buried stumps, logs, dead roots or pieces of wood left in the backfill after construction or even in the forms that are buried. These areas can be found 3 to 6 meters below the ground. The nursery areas can also be found in the walls of structures or beside wood structures. Subterranean termites will feed on untreated fence posts and boards, utility poles, cardboard, paper, plywood in or close to the ground. They prefer to feed on softer, water damaged wood. Termite nursery areas located under subfloors or concrete slabs will be near the furnace or hot water tanks or other sources of heat. They can remain active all winter if there is no wood near the ground. The workers will build shelter tubes over or through cracks in the foundation. They only need a crack of 1/64”.Pretreatment for new construction is highly recommended especially in the Okanagan. The soil can be treated before the slab is poured and the frame can also be treated. It is a lot easier, cheaper, and much less invasive then waiting for the building to be built. 

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