Globally termites are a real problem for timber framed properties and our Australian and American colleagues are only too aware of the damage they can inflict.
As well as the Natural History Museum presenting research in 2007 to indicate that termites are actually “social cockroaches”, these pesky little critters do know how to make some amazing structures (see right). The termite mounds they produce are actually really, really clever. They manage to angle them in such a way to capture the morning sun and once things get a bit too hot, they move to the non-sunny side of the mound. Take a look at these amazing pictures and read more about the magnetic termites found in Australia.
Another little known fact about termites (which obviously someone with a termite problem won’t give two hoots about – and is actually linked to the fact they are closely biologically linked to cockroaches) is the fact that they are actually a very efficient bioreactor. Basically, they have microbes in their gut which means they produce hydrogen on digestion. I wonder how many you would need to produce enough energy to power a radio or light bulb, for say an hour. Apparently this process is something the US Department of Energy is looking into as a renewable energy source.
The best way to avoid termites destroying your property (thankfully not a huge issue in the UK, although there is a small pocket of infestation in Devon I believe) is prevention, and in particular cases termite baiting proves successful as an early indicator of the problem.
Chris Arne from J C Ehrlich (our US business counterpart) has been quoted as saying: “Termite baiting has become a very useful tool in our termite control program. It gives people peace of mind that the stations are being monitored and checked. They get an instant termite activity report.” He gives a few more tips on keeping termites at bay here.