The subterranean termite Reticulitermis flavipes (Kollar) is probably the most destructive and widely distributed species in North America. This species has acclimatized to southern Ontario to such a degree that 27 municipalities report some degree of infestation.
It is difficult to identify termites unless there is a reproductive swarm. Swarming termites do however resemble swarming ants. Some people call termites "white ants" but this is an incorrect term. Termites are often white but some are so clear you can see food in their gut. Their bodies are very soft.
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.
Liquid chemicals sprayed on the ground around a home to poison termites, termiticides are one of the most common types of termite services. Many times, termites don`t live inside the wood of a home. They enter to eat and then leave to go back to their own home. When termites travel across soil sprayed with termiticides, it poisons them in a matter of minutes or a few hours. When applied correctly, the termiticide should remain effective for five years. Termiticides are one of the most popular ways to prevent termite damage.
The two wingless non-reproductive castes consist of the soldiers and workers. The soldiers defend the colony from outside attack, while the workers carry out all duties except defence and reproduction. For example, the workers feed the reproductives, larvae and soldiers, care for the eggs, and construct tunnels and shelter tubes. The soldier caste consists of sterile adults with large heads and pincher-like mouth parts. These soldiers make up 2-3 % of the total colony.
Termites often enter buildings through cracks and holes and expansion joints in foundations. Spaces around piping and wiring are also points of entry. These openings may be filled with either roofing-grade coal-tar pitch, sealers or similar commercial caulking products.
Improve the water drainage around your property. If the soil is constantly moist, optimum conditions are provided for the termites. Repair eaves trough, slope concrete walks away from the house and repair all leaks.
Termites have a very thin cuticle (skin) and are subject to rapid desiccation (drying out) if exposed to the environment outside their enclosed habitat. In order to maintain a highly controlled environment, termites must live in a closed system. Colonies in wood are always contained within an outside shell of cellulose material. In this way, they are protected from exposure to the outside.
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 primary female reproductive (the queen), is very rarely found in Ontario, whereas secondary reproductives in the colony carry on extensive reproduction.