Author : Fay Amy.
Published : Sun, Feb 10 2019 :3 PM.
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Subterranean termites are social insects, feeding on cellulose and living in colonies in the soil. These colonies are close to moisture, and can be readily relocated due to temperature or other environmental changes. Termites travel through soil, in wood itself, or through shelter tubes.
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.
Baiting involves placing bait tubes or traps in the ground at intervals around a building -several dozen for a typical house. Pieces of untreated timber or other cellulose-based material are inserted into these tubes as bait for termites. The tubes are monitored and, when termites are observed feeding on the bait, it is replaced with treated bait containing a chemical that the termites then carry back to the colony. The chemical is slow acting, so termites are unable to associate its source with its effects. Over a period of several months, the entire colony may be destroyed.
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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.