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How quickly do termites spread?

Termites spread perpetually and also take large leaps spread by people moving infested wood.
Colonies also release swarmers once or twice a year which are flying termites seeking new areas to establish new colonies.

You should try to be aware of termites in your area, if your neighbours discover termites than you should get your home inspected.

Interesting facts about Termites

  • Total weight of termites on the earth outweigh total weight of humans
  • Termites have existed on the earth for 250 million years.
  • Termite queens and kings live 15 years and queens lay one egg every 15 seconds 24 hours a day.
  • Termites are rarely exposed to daylight.
  • Termites never sleep.
  • Termites work 24 hours a day.
  • Aging termite workers become chemically toxic. They use this as a form of suicidal defence, exploding to release chemicals that injure intruders. The toxic chemical sticks to the intruders and corrodes their bodies.

How do I know if I have Termites?

Termites can burrow into wood for years with no visual signs causing significant damage before they are noticed. It is important to have the proper protection and prevention to stop termite populations from rapidly increasing.

Shelter Tubes
Termites need moisture to survive so they build shelter tubes using their feces and saliva to insulate themselves. They them use these tubes as passageways to get from underground areas to infested wood.

Indoors termites eat the paper in drywall and in wood trim leaving the paint to blister and bubble. Outdoors termites can be found by turning over a piece of infested wood.

Hollow Spots
Look for holes in wooden floors for example where termites have eaten away at the wood.

Other evidence of termite infestation include…

  • Discarded wings around the house.
  • Frass, which is termite feces.
  • Hollow sounding wood often located in baseboards.
  • Mud packed galleries in your wood.

Do I have Ants or Termites?

‘Swarmers’ fly once a year from house to house in search of a new site (possibly your home) to establish a new colony. It is important to be able to distinguish between a flying termite and a flying ant.

Here is a method to determine if you have flying ants or flying termites…

  1. Capture a few live samples
  2. Put them in a jar with a lid
  3. Put the jar on a window sill and wait for 3-4 hours
  4. If you have termites then they will be dead in that time and they will likely have shed their wings.
  5. If you have ants then they will still be alive and they will not have shed their wings.

Termites in Toronto forming super-colonies

Scientists from Western University have discovered how termites are able to form super-colonies in Toronto. As it turns out they are all related to each other, they are like kin, all in the same family.

Western biology professor Graham Thompson published his research in the journal of Environmental Entomology on December 19, 2012. Thompson found that termites arrived in Canada in three major invasions over the past 75 years. He also found that termites in Toronto have formed huge colonies because of a shared genetic code which makes them all related.

No matter what area of the GTA you look at termites are all very similar genetically. Being genetically similar has resulted in termites from different properties and neighbourhoods to join together forming one big colony. With no genetic differences termite colonies can spread in any direction from any direction and have formed super-colonies across entire city blocks.

This means that termites no longer live in small colonies. They now move underground like a giant blob. This makes them far more difficult to eradicate and far more important to protect every home or business. Pesticides used to kill termites eventually lose their punch and termites from the surrounding super-colony return to the property in the millions. Monitoring and re-treatment is vital in order to protect high valued properties in the GTA.