The subterranean termite is very closely associated with the soil, which is its main source of life-sustaining moisture. Termite food consists of cellulose obtained from wood and wood products. Decaying damp wood is preferred but termites are also able to feed on sound, dry lumber.
Powder post beetles only do significant damage when multiple generations continually re-infest the same piece of wood. Also, powder post beetle damage is restricted to hardwoods, and since most structural framing is made of softwood lumber it is rarely attacked by these insects.
The worker termites are white in colour and approximately 6mm (1/4 inch) in length. Their antennae are straight (not elbowed) and the body is not narrowed at the waist, which distinguish them from ants. They have chewing mouth parts and are responsible for foraging and feeding the dependent members of the colony. The hind gut of the worker contains protozoa (single-celled animals) which assist in breaking down cellulose into its component parts which are digestible by the termite. The worker termite causes the structural damages.
It is one of the most economical ways to get rid of termites. It uses termite products like termidor as a barrier. Fripnoil is an active substance in termidor. It attracts the termites towards itself and termites that enter the affected area die slowly.
In contrast to termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood and other cellulose-based materials, but instead simply excavate living quarters and hatching chambers that are usually quite limited in extent.
The third method of dispersal is through infested wood or soil being transported to a new location. As few as 15-40 larvae or nymphs contained in the infested material may moult to become secondary reproductives and begin a new colony.
Proper ventilation is essential to eliminate moist conditions. The main areas of concern are verandas and crawl spaces. The amount of ventilation will be variable according to regional and local factors, and must meet building standards.
The first method, common in the warmer climates of the southern United States, is called swarming. This occurs usually in spring, when large numbers of winged primary reproductives (alates) (top photo) emerge from a colony, fly a very short distance, mate and then establish a new colony. Although alates are found in Ontario, rarely do they swarm.
Carpenter ants, found in the Pacific Northwest, the northern Midwest, New England and southern Canada, are distinguishable from termites by their dark colour, narrow waists, elbowed antennae and when present, the large front and small rear wings. Carpenter ants rarely attack sound dry wood, preferring damp wood, foam or cellulose insulation, and do not use wood for food. They are more easily spotted than termites as they expel wood fragments from their excavations, and forage for food in the open. The presence of carpenter ants may indicate moisture problems in the building as they generally prefer already rotting wood.
Often shelter tubesconstructed of soil particles cemented together by excrement or secretions from the mouth are used to connect the outside soil to a building and for crossing a concrete or metallic portion in a structure. The presence of a shelter tube is generally the first physical evidence of a termite infestation.