Termites, also known in Indonesia as Rayap, are tiny insects that live in a colony and are divided into three distinct castes. The three distinct castes are swarmer, soldier, and worker.
First caste, swarmer, contains three reproductive parts: primary reproductive, secondary or supplementary reproductive, and tertiary reproductive. Primary reproductive transforms a moth to a king or queen that can produce around 30,000 eggs a day. Secondary reproductive grows from nymph to become a substitute for the primary queen function when the queen cannot produce eggs or die. However, tertiary reproductive is only formed when there is separation within the colony. Where individual termites can produce two to three times more eggs than the primary queen but have a shorter life expectancy.
The second caste, soldier, plays a role in protecting the colony from other termites and predators like ants. Lastly, the third caste is worker and is the smallest of all. Worker plays a role in finding food for the colony, taking care of the queen, and building tunnels and nests.
Termites play an important role in the soil ecosystem. There are three types of termites: Subterranean termite, Dry wood termite, and Dampwood termite. One of the behaviors established by termites is random foraging up to 480 square meters and more. Termites also consume cellulose, mushrooms, and wood that is soft, moist, weathered, and have fungi grown. When termites get married, it starts with a moth swarm formation and is followed by the detachment of their wings. Once they successfully mate, they place their eggs in the nest. Termites thrive in a temperature between 15 to 38 Celsius and humidity between 75 to 90. Moisture content or rainfall is very important to keep water loss from the body.
Signs of termite presence can be seen from abandoned moth wings or dead moths, mud tubes or traveling aisles, presence of damage caused by termites, feces, or frass that is left exclusively for non-subterranean termites.
Termites Control and Prevention
There are different aspects of termite control:
- Physical Supervision: create a barrier for the entry of termites into the building (granite, stainless steel mesh)
- Biological: By exploiting predators or natural enemies of termites (Nematodes, fungi, or bacteria)
- Chemical: Chemical treatment to the soil layer. Two actions: Pre-construction and Post-construction. Chemical properties: Repellent and Non-repellent
- Feeding: By using an insect growth regulator
Regarding termite prevention, it is better to prevent the damage caused by termites before the infestation is severe and damage is beyond repair. Prevention is much more economical than carrying out a complete eradication and repairing the damage they caused especially in Southeast Asia where the chance of attack by termites is very high (90% if without prevention).
There are several methods to prevent/minimize damage to buildings that caused by termites:
- Considering the design of the building
- Minimize sources of moisture
- Installation of termites or barriers for termites to enter an area
- Dispose of food/something that has the potential to attract termites
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