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How do I know I am at risk from termites?

Get a Termite Inspection done!!!!

Yes, I cannot stress the importance of having an annual termite inspection done. They will save your home and more importantly MONEY…Period!!!

The expat community is mostly made up of Europeans, Eastern Europeans, Australians and North Americans. Apart from the last two, none of you have ever lived with the threat of termites attacking your home.

You come to Thailand to work or retire, buy your dream home in the Land of Smiles and then expect to live happily ever-after. Then it happens; your beautiful kitchen you paid thousands of Baht for gets used as termite food. Oh dear...

In Australia and America, it is accepted that you need to have an annual termite inspection. Whilst working in Australia, I met people who religiously had a yearly termite inspection and panicked if it went overdue. But we are trying to make people aware of the necessity of having of having an inspection carried out. So what is involved?

A Termite Inspection should only be carried out by a licensed qualified technician. If they are not qualified to do it, then there is a good chance they will not properly understand building structures and termite behaviour. They should look around up to 50 metres around your property to start, then work inwards towards the house structure. What they will be looking for is anything conducive to termite activity. Untreated wooden posts, ornamental logs in the garden and mulch can all attract termites. Also, a drainage issue will create a constant damp soil that termites just love to be in. If there are any subfloors or if the house is elevated on pillars, an inspection will need to be done to check for mud tubing. This area will also need to be checked for wood borers and fungi as a result of wet rot.  After that, the remainder of the house is checked for damp and any termite activity. Pipe penetrations that come up from the concrete slab are a favourite entry point for termites. Termites only need a 1mm gap for them to enter a building structure!!

So as you can appreciate, the inspection is very extensive and should be reasonably cheap. Comparing that to the cost of replacing all your wood in your house, an insignificant cost! So don’t be a “cheap Charlie!” Adapt yourself to living in Thailand and do things right.

Your Questions Answered.

An ant problem……..

Help, I am getting plagued with tiny ants in our kitchen and they are now spreading throughout the house. I tried spraying them with an insecticide I bought from a local supermarket, but it has only got worse! What can I do to get rid of them?

Matthew, Pratumnak Rd, Pattaya.

Hi Matthew, the first thing you need to do is take all your packets of food and place them into sealed containers. Ants can chew their way through them. Keep your work surfaces clean and do not leave dirty dishes overnight.

Next, do not spray them. It is likely you have a species of ant called Pharaoh Ants (Monomorium pharaonis). These little ants are very light brown in colour and approximately 1-2mm in size. The problem with these, if you spray them, it can split the colony. So instead of one colony, you could end up with multiple colonies with their own queen. They need to be properly baited so each colony can be killed.


Termites in a villa….

I hope you can help me. One of our rooms in the resort where I work has had termites. I have sprayed them. What can be done next?

Khun Ann, Na Jomtien

Hi Khun Ann,

If you see termites in any home, villa, room or structure, do not spray them!!!

I cannot stress this enough. Most sprays contain a synthetic pyrethroid that will kill a few termites, but repel them away as the insecticide is a repellant. Is there anything wrong with that? Yes plenty. All the termites will do is go back down the tubes they came up in and then attack somewhere else creating more damage. You need to kill the queen and the colony and the only way to do this is by having them treated with non repellant insecticides using dust or foam that is a termiticide. In your situation, the most immediate action is to have the structure properly protected. This will be covered in next month’s article.

Next Month……Termite Prevention.