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Friday, March 2, 2012


Why Are Termites Considered Pest?
As I know from the experts, Termites cause great losses to man. They are known as pests of wood in houses and also in the farms as well as ornamental tree. Not just that, they are also pests in the agriculture sector as mention by agronomist. 
Some studies in our country shows that the losses caused by termites are four times higher than losses caused by fire. Wow how serious the damage by this little termites.  In urban areas I think that termites damage wooden structures such as doorframes, kitchen cabinets, parquet flooring and even roof trusses. In Malaysia, termite from a specie Coptotermes spp are the most common species that cause extensive damage to buildings. A single colony of this Coptotermes can can search for food over an area covering a distance of about 100 metres. It also reported that they can also affect top levels of multi-storey buildings. For example in Melaka in 2009 a man reported died after he fell through a wooden floor which was damaged by termites. In another case reported in 2010 in Serdang where it so happen that a water tank fell from from the ceiling because the support beams had been eaten by termites. This story frightened us. 

The other termite genus of Coptotermes are also known to be the most destructive termites in the Malaysian agriculture sector. They normally attack rubber and mango trees causing great loss to the industry. They often attack the heartwood and consume it before working outwards. The infested tree often dies and collapses. It is quite simple to tell that a tree is infested with active termites. The new leaves normally turn yellow and eventually the other leaves also show the same symptom.
How Do Termites Infest Your Buildings?
From my observation seems that termites gain entry into buildings through cracks in the foundations and wall floor interface. Beside that the electrical conduits, along water pipes in the walls and telephone lines are the best and strategic areas for them to penetrate into premises. 
Once termites have gained entry into buildings than the infestation goes unnoticed for months as they conceal their presence with mud tubes or traverse behind wooden structures. The infestation normally goes unnoticed because the termites do not eat the external part, for example, if they infest parquet flooring, they will not feed on the shellac layer.
How To Minimise Termite Attacks
Termites for particularly the subterranean species, are arguably one of the worst nightmares of property owners, more so in a tropical country like Malaysia. Each year, property owners spend millions on damages and repairs, not to mention the accompanying inconvenience and hassle. 
Building maintenance is critical to eliminating and preventing conditions that are conducive to termite activity in or around buildings. Even the best maintained buildings are not spared by insidious subterranean termites that are known to forage as far as 100 metres from their underground colonies. An inspection by pest management professionals is undoubtedly the best way to head off termite problems before they cause extensive and expensive damage to your building. Even if these inspections are not done annually, you should make it a point to conduct your own inspections during routine maintenance chores. A good inspection includes looking not only for termites, but also for conditions conducive to their activity.Here are some tips on how to minimize termite problems in and around your buildings.
Plan Before Planting
Before you get down to buying you favourite shrubs or trees and planting them around your building, you need to think about how large these plants will eventually be in 10 to 15 years later. Do not plant shrubs or trees too close to the foundation of your building. Plants that are too close to your building may hide activities of termites and other pests as well. Tree or shrub limbs touching your building can damage siding and allow ants an entry point. Prune the plants to prevent them from blocking airflow through foundation vents.
Reduce Mulches In Landscaping
The current practice of using the mulching for new planting has to be revised if there are termite in the area. Possibly use mulch sparingly, if at all. This goes for organic mulches like sawdust, wood chips and crushed stone and pea gravel. Termites may not find much nutritional value in mulch, but they do appreciate its moisture-retaining and temperature-insulating qualities. All mulches, including inorganic ground covers like gravel and black plastic, help in maintaining moist soil conditions and reducing weeds. Moisture in the soil is likely to attract termites which feed on cellulose-containing mulches. If you need to use mulches for your landscape, never spread them until they touch the foundation or lowest course of siding on your building. While it may enhance the appearance of your building, it can allow termites to use the cover of mulch to invade your building undetected.
Protect Your Siding
Siding should always be above the grade or soil line, preferably at least 15cm above it; otherwise, you could have decay problems as well as termite problems. Ensure that plants and flower beds do not touch the foundation. Avoid digging up the soil within 15cm of your building or putting new topsoil on top of it as this will allow termites access to your foundation.
Eliminate Wood-ground Connections
A good building practice is to ensure that structural wood does not touch the ground. Make sure that wood products such as latticework, door and window frames end at least 12cm above ground level. This is to minimise termites from accessing the three things they need to thrive: food, moisture and shelter. Take the wood away from the ground, and you thwart their access to each of these things.
Use Termite-resistant Timbers
Poor building designs may contribute to termite infestations. Identify and correct structural deficiencies that attract or promote such termite attacks. Termite-resistant wood and other building materials may aid in reducing damage. Many buildings have fallen victims to termite attacks due to the poor choice of timbers used. For structural timbers, properties such as density, strength properties, natural durability – mainly termite resistance – and treatability are important.
According to tests conducted by local researchers, including those from the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), certain timbers are known to be resistant to termite attack. The termite-resistant timbers include Balau, Bekak, Belian, Bitis, Chengal, Gelam, Giam, Ipil, Kundang, Leban, Malabera, Malagangai, Merbau, Merbau Lalat, Pelawan, Penaga, Penyau, Ranggu, Resak, Teak, Temak Batu, Tembusu and Tempinis. These species are classified as very durable and durable in tests involving wooden stakes partially buried in the ground. The resistance of wood to termites can be influenced by the age and size of trees from which it was obtained, and the portion of the trunk used.
Use Treated Timber ; Resistant Siding Materials
Although some species are considered as susceptible to termite attacks, they can be protected with the use of wood preservatives and some of the more suited species in Malaysia include Jelutong, Merbau, Ramin and Tualang.
Treated wood can also be used in other parts of buildings such as in the framing. The type and concentration of the chemical treatment will dictate where the treated timber can or should be used. Although using treated wood more extensively in new buildings may increase construction costs, this is a preferred method for dealing with termites.
Termite-resistant building materials are not new, with some dating back to the early 1900s. There are a number of building materials – the latest being wood flooring materials that are gaining popularity among homeowners in Malaysia – that are widely sourced as alternatives to conventional siding and other materials, which are typically vulnerable to termites and other wood-destroying organisms. The manufacturers claim that these products are termite (and decay) resistant and usually carry a long-term, limited warranty, which you must always insist on before using these products. As in the case of treated timber, these products are more expensive than most conventional building materials. However, their long-term benefit in terms of durability and pest-resistance should be considered. It is better to invest slightly more on the construction or renovation cost than to spend a fortune on extensive repairs.
Termites can eat nearly any material containing cellulose. Therefore, using treated timber is no guarantee that termites will not invade your building and damage untreated wooden flooring or other wood, sheetrock or other cellulose-containing items. However, treated timber can help significantly reduce termite invasion. Treated timber is not a substitute for careful maintenance and routine termite inspections of your building.
Apart from the above good practices, here are some additional termite-abatement tips:
a) Remove all dead wood, stumps and tree roots from your building.
b) Repair all leaking faucets, especially outside faucets, water pipes, and air-conditioning units.
c) Grade the ground next to the foundation so the surface water drains away from your building.
d) Keep things screened and sealed. Install screens on attic and foundation vents to help prevent termites from entering through them. Also seal cracks and holes in window and door frames with wood putty. 
e) Inspect utility and service boxes attached to your building to ensure that they are sealed and do not provide shelter or a point of entry for termites.

The termite are our enemy all year round. There are million ringgit losses in out asset damage due to the attack of termites. The termite and pests control private company are ready to assists us in reducing the termite damage. Make sure we knows the existence of termite in our area. Do regular checking on the symptoms of termite in our home!

M Anem
Jalan Istana, Melaka,
(10 RabiulAkhir 1433H)

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