How to eliminate termites?

Present on the surface of the globe for tens of millions of years, termites are social insects of the order Isoptera. They are very common in tropical countries, where they build large nests in soil called termite mounds. They are also found in temperate countries, where they invade forests and dwellings, dig galleries in the wood and cause great damage everywhere.


Termites, what are they?

Termites are insects that belong to the order Isoptera and to the phylum Arthropoda. In the world there are almost 2600 known species.

Termites are whitish in color, hence their nickname white ants. Small in size, they measure no more than 8 mm in length and 1 to 2 mm in width. They are characterized by very powerful mouthparts and an abdomen connected to the thorax.

Social insects, termites live in organized colonies, just like bees, ants or wasps. A colony can contain millions of individuals divided into three specific castes: the royal couple, the soldiers and the workers.

Where do termites live?

They are found mainly in the tropical regions of Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Far East. Other species have invaded the temperate zones of North America and Oceania, passing through all of Europe and North Africa.In Europe, the forests of the southern half of the continent are infested. But their urban distribution is much wider: millions of colonies of termites have now settled in many European cities.

Termites live sheltered from light, in galleries dug in the ground, in wood, or in elaborate nests: termite mounds.

Living in colonies, they will always arrive through the ground. It is therefore recommended to periodically check your cellars, basements, underground areas and your ground floor, as these are strategic places conducive to their development.

How do termites live?

They live in hierarchical colonies and are organized into castes, like most social insects. Each colony, which can number in the millions, has three different castes.

The royal couple, made up of a king and a queen, ensure reproduction. They are the only sexual individuals in the colony. From this couple are born larvae which, after several moults, give sterile workers and soldiers, or nymphs which give sexual adults which will found other colonies.

The workers, wingless and blind, are responsible for feeding the entire colony, building and maintaining the termite mound. They have powerful crushing mandibles that allow them to grind wood or take clay balls that are used for construction.

The soldiers, identifiable by their red heads with powerful mandibles, are responsible for protection. The soldier termite has a gland that secretes a toxic liquid. Faced with a threat, it expels the poison by contraction of its abdominal muscles, even if it means exploding like a bomb. Yes, the soldier sacrifices himself to protect the other castes of the colony against the enemies.

What do termites eat?

Termites are xylophagous insects, that is to say that they essentially eat wood. Equipped with very powerful mouthparts, it is easy for them to crush fragments of wood at a mind-blowing speed.

Several types of nutritive modes can be distinguished in termites:

Thanks to cellulases, higher termites are able to degrade wood cellulose on their own.

This is not the case with lower termites. They must maintain a symbiotic relationship with protozoa that they house in their rectal stomachs, and it is the latter that deal with the transformation of cellulose.

Mushroom termites, for their part, establish a symbiosis with mushrooms that they cultivate on millstones within the termite mound. These are the fungi that will pre-digest the plants before they are eaten by the termites.

There are also humivorous termites which feed on soil and humus. They represent half of the known species of termites and are also among the higher termites. Other minority modes of nutrition such as the consumption of lichen or algae also exist.

A particular fact in termites is that they practice trophallaxis: the food passes through all the digestive systems of the entire colony in the space of nearly three days. Unimaginable for us, it is nevertheless practical for them to feed certain castes which cannot degrade cellulose and which have no symbionts.

How to detect the presence of termites?

A termite infestation must be dealt with quickly to limit the damage they could do and prevent the structure of your property from being compromised. This is why they must be detected before it is too late. But how to do it?

There are recurring signs that betray the presence of these little beasts. So always pay attention to these little details that can save you from an invasion and to avoid the worst.

Should we be wary of flying termites?

The arrival of flying termites in the spring is the first sign of an invasion. They are males and females who are responsible for ensuring the continuity of the species. They will reproduce and, once fertilized, the females will look for a place to establish a new nest.

You will notice that their wings will fall off afterwards: this is an obvious sign that they are already present in your home and that new colonies have probably already formed everywhere.

It is therefore strongly recommended to exterminate them as soon as possible, at the very time when they are still in their winged form.

Do termites make sounds?

In addition to the wings they leave behind, termites also emit discreet noises that betray their presence. So be very careful, because they often produce sounds that can be similar to clicking. But where do all these noises come from?

Soldier termites have a habit of banging their heads against wood or shaking their bodies to communicate with their fellows. Worker termites, on the other hand, noisily devour any wood they encounter. Stick your ears against some wood and you might even hear them chewing.

How would I know if a material is infested with termites?

Termites are not easy to spot. But some clues are not misleading and will allow you to react in time. Know that these little beasts love everything that is wood and derivatives.

The wood sounds hollow: by nibbling from the inside, the termites leave hollows in the wood. Hit the beams and frames, not to mention the wooden furniture, and listen to the sound produced. If they sound hollow, termites are present.

The wood becomes porous: eaten from the inside, the wood loses its resistance and becomes porous. Apply pressure to the wood with your finger or poke it with a pointed tool and observe the result. If your finger or the tool sticks in easily, there's no doubt that your home is home to termite colonies.

The doors and windows resist you: the wood swells and deforms because of the excrement that the termites leave behind them and which keep all the heat and humidity of the wood. Your doors and windows then become difficult to open and close.

What are the traces that confirm the presence of termites in my house?

The earth tunnels : On the surface of the walls or the ground, one can observe tunnels of brown or dark colors, and of a clay consistency. These “termite cords” as they may also be called, serve as communication channels and shelters.

Cracks and sawdust: by digging galleries in the wood, termites create holes and cracks. We can then observe that the material becomes brittle, and that wood powder comes out of the holes.

Mud: after having digested the wood, the termites deposit excrement in the form of granules, clearly visible to the naked eye. You will see this “mud” near wooden structures, both inside and outside your home, proof that your home is infested with termites.


A termite infestation can be very devastating and cause damage worth thousands of dollars. Indeed, they can literally destroy your home, which is why it is essential to take the appropriate measures to prevent possible invasions, but above all to get rid of them and prevent them from returning in the future.

What are the preventive measures against termites?

Before having to set traps or use an anti-termite treatment, it is better to be safe than sorry. We offer you some very simple, but valuable tips to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Termites need water to survive. Remember to eliminate humidity in your home, and constantly monitor your water sources. Reduce any leaks that may come from your pipes, sprinkler system or taps.

If possible, avoid climbing plants growing along the walls. In addition to weakening the structure of your home, they facilitate access to termites.

Always use wood treated with a termite repellent for your garden fences, gates and decks. Never put them directly on the ground, but use for example metal posts as fence posts to support them.

Store your firewood away from the house, and ensure that it is not in direct contact with the ground. It is also best to cut down dead trees and move them away from your home.

Periodically monitor the framework and foundations of your home, your wooden furniture and derivatives, your floors and any other part of your home where wood is present. Also inspect your closet, as termites also eat cotton and other textile products.

You can also use a termite repellent to deter them from settling in and invading you. You can apply it directly to new wood or to previously infested surfaces.

o create a barrier around your house, by carrying out a treatment using the repellent anti-termites, diluted to 5%. Dig a trench around your house and spray the product inside it to create a natural barrier.

Should I hire a professional to get rid of termites?

To remove or eliminate them, there is no need to call in a professional. You can yourself apply a preventive or curative treatment to all the wooden elements in your home. Also remember to apply the product on the walls and on the floor, and in other corners likely to hide them.

The most important thing is that it is not only necessary to eliminate the individuals, but also and especially the queen. Do not hesitate to call on a specialist if you encounter difficulties. A professional exterminator will usually have the knowledge to spot a termite infestation before it's too late. The sooner you spot termites, the easier it will be to eliminate them.

How to eliminate termites yourself?

Install cardboard traps! The trick is very simple: wet flat boxes and stack them on top of each other. Termites will be attracted to moisture, and once full, remove the boxes and burn them in a safe place.

Use the sun! If your wooden furniture is attacked, place it outside, in direct sunlight, for two or three days. The heat of the sun will kill them, since they thrive in darkness.

Invite their enemies into your home! Yes , termites have natural enemies: nematodes, these small worms that kill termite larvae and can exterminate an entire colony in less than 48 hours. You can get it from a garden store or online.

 Its particularity is its double action: in addition to being a very powerful product that can instantly eliminate termites ;it also protects you from a possible invasion thanks to its preventive action. It is a ready-to-use product that requires no special skills to apply.

Whether for your new construction or for already infested areas, this product is the best treatment for wood and framing, as well as walls and floors. You can even apply it by injection.

But beware: these tricks will only allow you to fight temporarily against a small colony only. It is strongly recommended to use a powerful and high quality product to exterminate them permanently.