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.
Reproductive termites are similar but have wings. Termites are weak flyers and will only attempt to fly if the air is still and there is high humidity without the likelihood of rain. The largest member of the termite family is the queen. She can be up to 4 inches long and lays up to 4 eggs a minute! If she dies, one of the reproductive termites takes her place.
It is useful to know for termite identification that almost every type of termite lives in the dark, apart from the winged ones that fly or any termite when they are constructing something. This means that you normally only see them when something is open or broken. When they are exposed, termites attempt to follow their scent trails to get home. If they can`t get home, they either squeeze themselves into a small gap or wander around looking lost until they find another termite.
Conventional treatment for termite control requires the services of a licensed exterminator. Several firms in Ontario are qualified, and your Yellow Pages or a Local Search will assist you in locating companies in your area.
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.
The series of galleries (area hollowed out) created by termites in wood give a honeycomb appearance. These galleries follow the wood grain. Interior galleries contain greyish specks of excrement and earth, called frass.
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.
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.
Powder post beetle larvae cause millions of dollars worth of damage in the US and Canada annually, and are almost as destructive as termites. Adult beetles lay their eggs in the surface pores of wood. The larvae bore into the wood as soon as they hatch. Living in the wood, they create tunnels called galleries as they eat their way through the timbers. When the larvae are nearly full grown, they bore near to the surface of the wood and pupate. The adults bore out through the surface soon after pupation, pushing a fine powdery wood dust, usually a copper to yellow-gold in color, out of the wood as they emerge.
A typical termite family will include soldiers. These have long heads and powerful jaws. Soldier termites defend the family unit. If you can find some soldier termites, this makes it easier to know whether you have a termite problem. Solders only make up part of the termite population so you will have to look carefully for them. Most termites are workers. These are about 2/5 inch long and are recognizable by their soft, light-colored bodies. They look a bit like moving grains of rice.