Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Positive Look At Termites

Termite nest in the wild
Termites have a bad reputation and rightly so!  They love wood.  Any homeowner, including myself, will tell you horror stories of these nasty little buggers.  In Tucson, older neighborhoods have infestations of them which makes it necessary for regular treatment on a monthly or yearly basis. We have two main types of termites here....dryrot termites and subterranean termites.  El Presidio has suffered damage from the dryrot variety.  Several thousands of dollars have gone into injections into each and every unit.  Both varieties are treated differently.  Subterranean termites are easier to treat because you just have to spray around the building and make sure no water source is found near the sides of your home.  If you see a tunnel on the side, you just wipe it off.  However with dryrot termites, it's a little bit more tricky. If you have wood that is rotten, these little suckers will fly and find an opening in the wood and create a colony in no time.  Every year the colony will eat one inch of wood somewhere within your home.  For this treatment, you can either fumigate your entire home forcing you to leave for a couple days as your home is essentially gassed or have the less effective injections around your windows.  Dryrot termites frustrate me and for that reason, you should avoid using wood around your home and garden in our desert areas.  I only know any of this information from the hours of termite lessons I have gotten from estimates done for the treatments. But hold on!  Your post said positive?!  Yes it did.  Everything was created in nature for a reason and I thought it would be fun to look at why Mother Nature created these little buggers.
With a little water and dirt, tunnels are created on the side of a tree to get to their nests.
Termites act as the decomposers for Mother Nature eliminating organic waste material recycling both plant and animal waste.  In a rain forest, this becomes an important job as they aerate the soil, breakdown organic material, improve soil fertility, and provide a source of protein for other living creatures.  The rain forest is a fascinating place....full of humidity and competition.  Trees battle one another as they climb towards the sunlight.  Vines eventually can take over trees as they reach for the sun. In nature, there are winners and losers.  Trees that cannot reach the sun in time will rot and die.  Trees, as a natural defense to vine takeover, will on occassion let a branch arm fall off that is covered by these pesty twiny plants. Trees will also die from old age or simply fall over.  With all this dead wood on the forest floor, someone has to clean it up.  Termites act as one of nature's forces to break this rotting material down.  There are other agents that help break material down like fungus, but the termite's job is most extensive.
There's the positive look into a termite's role in nature.  Some of you may be asking, "Does this affect residents of deforested or living outside of forested areas?"  Oh it does.  Residents are constantly combating termites and if they don't, their home is quickly destroyed over several years of infestation.  Some people just leave and rebuild.  The smart ones use brick and concrete with metal beams, but let's face it, that costs more money and not everyone has the cash to pay for these materials.  On this trip, I was amazed at how much money was wasted by foreign and local investors on projects.  They'd fund a project for a year and then never do a follow up on these structures.  These structures would just sit with A LOT of termite damage.  Locals would just shrug and build something else instead of fixing up the existing structures.  That blew my mind. I will have more stories about some of the facilities we were in during our travel....some are quite funny.  In short, termites in the wild are great:)  Until tomorrow friends.....


  1. interesting.....
    everything has a role in life
    I liked learning this

  2. I've never viewed termites in this way before. Thanks for the insight!

    As long as they stay away from my house, I'm happy.

  3. I'm enjoying the trip. I'll be back tomorrow to see what awaits me.


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