Termites are bad things. They have a voracious appetite for moist wood and to get to this, they’ve been known to munch and crunch through 2 inches of concrete! They also operate a frighteningly effective communication system and have a collective intelligence that should make us shudder. Some experts reckon that if we humans only had a fraction of their intuitive and collective intelligence we would now be inhabiting a dozen planets. So no, I am not happy that they’ve found a million or so of these nasties in my house.
Within their colony there are eaters, soldiers and flyers – each has their role to play and all of them die almost immediately when exposed to light. Because they live their lives in the dark, they are transparent white-ish, looking like albino ants. The ‘eaters’ (above right) were found munching away underneath the plaster that covered a supporting beam in the basement. Not only could we could put a fist through the hole in the beam, but a head would have fitted through it as well! The beam, needless to say had to be replaced… But at the same time I had to decide on the kind of radical treatment that would eliminate these beasts forever from my house.
I chose the more environmentally-friendly method of TRAPS, rather than having 1500 litres of poison injected in my beams. The latter option is in my opinion only temporary (albeit for 10 years) as it merely creates a barrier – so the termites will look for other wood for as long as the poison puts them off. The trap-method involves small traps being placed both in and outside the house. These are filled with wood or a moist woodpaste (‘cake’ to the termites since they feed on cellulose) to which a chemical has been added that renders them infertile. Because they no longer reproduce, it takes a year and a half to wipe out the entire colony. The treatment expert comes and checks the traps every 6 weeks and only when no termites have been found for a year, are the indoor traps removed. The outdoor traps stay in place for yearly check-ups and serve as a warning system.
Naturally, I wasn’t able to start renovations until the termites were eradicated – which took the bulk of two years. Renovations have taken another two years, but that is another story…