Termite infestation is the infiltration of a termite colony which typically results in damage to the infested structure, whether it be a building, garden, or crop. A social insect, the termite is closely related to both the mantis and the cockroach, and will follow the rest of its colony, which can number in the millions, to a location that has an abundance of food. Termites feed on such materials as wood, dead plant matter, soil or manure. Asia and Africa in particular have been vulnerable to major crop devastation caused by termite infestation. However, termite infestation can ironically also provide improvements in a crop’s water infiltration process, as the tunnels burrowed by worker termites better enable rainwater to saturate into the soil, and also help prevent soil erosion.
Termite infestation can occur quickly once a food source is located where the colony can gather, as a Queen termite has the capacity to lay over two thousand eggs in just one day. Termite workers are the main contributors to damage caused during termite infestation as they feed other members of the colony from the matter they consume, through a process known as trophallaxis.
Because termites have the ability to burrow deeply into unprotected wooden structures, the destruction caused by termite infestation can easily go unnoticed until surface damage appears. Termite infestation in buildings is not only limited to the structure itself, but also the contents of the building, including such materials as carpets and paper. Buildings that are protected from termite infestation typically feature a foundation constructed of termite-resistant concrete or steel. Another preventative measure against termite infestation is to build structures using termite-resistant timber, such as White Cypress, Sequoias, or Turpentine Trees. In Australia, a product has been developed known as “Blockaid," which is formulated from plant extracts and painted on buildings to act as a non-toxic barrier against termite infestation.
Buildings that have already become the victim of termite infestation require the services of a professional exterminator to destroy the termite colony using insecticides. Following extermination, feeder stations or “baits” can be placed around the location to be used as a low-toxic means of re-directing the colony and preventing future termite infestations.