• Benny Kuriakose


Termites are a highly organized community-building species. Their attack on timber adversely affects the quality and strength of wood. Let us look into the important varieties of termites, how they attack, their characteristics, and also different preventive measures are taken to avoid termite attacks in detail.

Table of Contents

1. Termites

1.1 Why worry about termites?

1.2 How will one know if the building is infected?

1.3 Are all the timbers susceptible to termite attack?

1.4 Soil Termites and their Characteristics

1.5 Dry wood Termites and their Characteristics

2. How to prevent Termite Attack?

2.1 Mechanical Barriers

2.2 Chemical Barriers

2.2.1 Which termite treatment methods and products are most effective?

2.2.2 Will the chemicals harm human beings or pets?

2.3 Safety precautions to be taken while applying pesticides

2.4 Why are the applications of chemical barriers in the ground not advisable as a preventive measure?

Some insects only attack the living trees and die out when the timber reaches certain moisture content. Holes caused by these insects if not too numerous do not affect the strength properties (ambrosia beetles or pinhole borers). But there are other insects, which destroy the timber after it has been seasoned. One such insect is termite. Termite attacks adversely affect the quality and strength of the timber.

1. Termites

There are more than two thousand varieties of termites whose identification is a complex and skilled task for scientists. The termite, though often called a white ant, is only very distantly related to the ant, although it is a highly organized community-building species. It's two varieties that are of interest in conservation are soil termites and dry wood termites. The former is ground-nesting and the latter a flying variety.

The termites will attack wood, fibres, etc., and destroy almost anything including synthetic material, which is not too hard, repellent or toxic. They have been reported as attacking electrical insulation and plastic water pipes buried underground.

Soil termites attacking the timber rafters
Soil termites attacking the timber rafters

1.1 Why worry about termites?

Termites cause more damages to buildings in India than many other natural disasters. They primarily feed on timber, but also damage paper, books, insulation, and even woody plants. They can destroy the roofing timber of a house within three months of