Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2015 Contents 5
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"A termite can also enter your home through an opening as thin as a sheet of paper," re-
vealed Shadia Khell, Business Development Manager (Caribbean) at Rentokil Initial (Trinidad)
"Termites can even destroy a wooden floor within two to three months. They eat non-stop;
24 hours a day, seven days a week. They eat all types of wood, but prefer soft wood. They also
eat through books -- paper comes from trees. We generally refer to them as woodlice, but
some enter the home through the soil while others can enter via a piece of furniture brought
into the premises. There are also types that live above ground -- you can sometimes spot aerial
nests on a tree trunk or a wooden lamp post. Surprisingly, termites also gain entry by becom-
ing 'rain flies' -- this is an actual stage in their reproductive life cycle. You would see these in-
sects flying around during or after heavy rainfall, then they fall to the ground and shed their
wings. They are mistaken for flying ants, but they are in fact winged termites. The difference
is in their antennae; the ants have elbowed (bent) antennae, but the termites' antennae are
short, straight and beaded." (See photos.)
Ideally, the new home or property owner should have the foundation site and lumber
treated before construction starts, and all it takes is a simple phone call to the pest control
company. For infested homes, aggressive treatment is often needed as the termite is a prolific
breeder; the queen lays as many as 1000 eggs a day. Unfortunately, termite damages are not
covered by most insurance policies.
"This is why pre-treatment is the most effective treatment type," Shadia added.
"It's ironically called Post-Treatment as it is done once construction has started but before
the casting of the foundation slab, and it is highly recommended in the construction of new
homes or additions to existing buildings. Lumber that is used for roof timbers or cupboards
should also be treated prior to use."
If, however, your building has been completed and you realise you may have termites, call on
your pest control company to assist as the problem may be bigger than you realise. The in-
spection itself is free of charge.
"Chances are if you see what we call mud tubes - those raised tunnels made from bits of
mud and soil (also called tracks) -- on an outside boundary wall, it means they are making their
way in. If the track is inside your house, they are already inside," Shadia said.
Other signs of infestation include hollowed wood, termite droppings (these resemble saw-
dust) and discarded wings. Treating the problem will involve various methods, administered
according to the degree of damage encountered.
"There are three types of treatments," Shadia said. "The ground treatment (or pre-treat-
ment) is applied to protect your foundation as you start building. Now if your building is com-
pleted and you missed the pre-treatment, you can opt for the second, which is Sub slab
"drilling and injection". This is where we physically drill into the concrete itself at specific inter-
vals and inject the fluid to kill the termites, and within the property we'll also do isolated spray
treatments. The third treatment option of tented fumigation is only done when the property is
heavily infested and is often considered a last resort."
Tented fumigation involves the use of a gas, and as the name suggests, a special tarpaulin
covers the entire home to seal it and the owners are asked to vacate the premises for three
days, removing any and all pets. The gas is then released, killing all termites in range. On day
three the tarp is removed and the occupants can return to the home once cleared for reoccu-
In general, once the property has been treated using either method, protection comes with a
warranty of 5 years or more, depending on the porosity of the soil.
There are also a couple of ways one can lower the risk for infestation by keeping vents clear,
gutters clean and diverting water from the building foundation. Also remove excessive plant
cover and wood mulch, as well as sealing all entry points around pipes and utility lines.
"Also, remove debris around the house like those old pieces of wood in the garage and old
cardboard," Shadia concluded. "Clear the yard of mulch and old tree stumps because wood on
the soil will attract them; once they find a food source, they will leave a pheromone trail or
"scent trail" for others to follow. We want our properties to last."
TERMITE SPECIES that exist in Trinidad are:
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FAST facts about Termites:
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• Winged ants have two pairs of wings with the front pair larger than the hind pair;
both pairs of termite wings are the same shape and size.
• Ants have elbowed antennae; termites have short, straight, beaded antennae
• Ants have a distinct constriction between body regions; termites have a gradual con-
• Don't be fooled by color or size: ants and termites can vary both in size and color
based on species.
Those "Ants" Might be Termites
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