Termites are among the most destructive pests in the world for they feed on cellulose-based plant materials. Infestation can result in millions worth of damages annually.
In Kuala Lumpur, there are about 200 different species of termites, but only a few commonly infest properties. The Coptotermes species constitute the most damage in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of Malaysia.
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Types of Termites and their Behavior
Subterranean termites or Coptotermes: This type is the most destructive among other termite species. They can compromise the safety in your property if not handled immediately. They build mud tubes or tunnel-like tubes to create a pathway and protect themselves from sunlight and open air. They eat wood 24/7 with their saw-toothed jaws. Overtime, they can critically damage a structure and threaten property owners. As social insects, they live in colonies with different roles such as workers, soldiers and reproductives. Their colony may be up to 18 to 20 feet below soil surface.
Drywood termites: This type often lives in cellulose-based materials with low moisture content and does not need contact with soil to live. They can go directly to wood and damage furniture and structures. They also attack books and are more difficult to detect. Swarmers often come after rains to look for potential colony location.
Dampwood termites: This type thrives on damp or wet wood. They are bigger than the other types of termites, with large heads and mandibles in front. They can infest homes through contact with the ground. They also do not form mud tubes so they can be more difficult to detect.
Termite Species in Kuala Lumpur
Asian Subterranean Termite: Their soldier termite would discharge a white fluid as a defense mechanism. They make rattling sounds as they bang their head against the wall to warn other termites of danger. They create soft mud tubes and carton nests, which is like a sub nest.
Common Subterranean Termite: Their appearance is very similar to the Asian Subterranean Termites but their size is bigger. They create hard and strong mud sheath on tree trunks and can cause damage to carton boxes and even to trees because they like live trees. They occasionally infest wooden doors and windows and other wooden structures.
Mushroom Growing Termite: This species loves to invade outdoor wooden structures. They do not directly ingest wood to eat but to use to grow fungus in their nest. They exhibit symbiotic relationship with Cendawan busut mushrooms. They maintain this mushroom in their nest and consume substances that have been decomposed by the mushroom.
Common Mound Building Termite: This species loves to attack trees in open areas and form a hard earthen mound at the tree base, thus the name. They also grow fungus in their nests and are known to infest rubber, coconut, and palm trees in Malaysia.
Termites are common in Kuala Lumpur because they find many opportunities to thrive in the diverse environment of the city. Studies have shown that there are termite species in urban buildings, while others thrive on urban gardens and parklands without attacking structures.
Control of termites relies on soil treatment and dusting. Termites are considered pests in urban, agricultural and forest environments.