For the general public, the concept of termite management is often hard to grasp. The common perception is that their newly acquired house was “certified” during construction therefore it is termite-proof!! Many homeowners question the need for annual inspections or are shocked when they discover a termite infestation within their home. My background in teaching has taught me that the best way to explain something to people is to use an analogy that they can relate to. By far my favourite analogy for termite management would have to be using criminals. All homeowners can relate to this and it has many similarities.
Termites are like criminals, we know they are out there on the street looking for an opportunity. There’s not much we can do about that, but we do what we can to reduce the risk of them being able to get into our house. And I highlight the word “risk”. Just like termites, there are higher risk areas than others. To reduce the risk of our house being broken into we lock our doors, we light up dark areas at night, we can install security screens and doors, we can install alarm systems or even have security patrols. So as you can see there is a range of methods to reduce the risk just like termite management, but it all comes down to our budget and what it takes to give us peace of mind. But just like security methods, no single termite management method is 100% foolproof, hence the need for annual inspections.
This analogy can also be used to explain the behaviour of termites. Some criminals will back the removal truck up and clean out your house, others will just steal the beer out of your fridge and leave. Similar behaviour occurs with a termite infestation, sometimes they will just have a nibble on a carpet smooth edge other times given enough time they can destroy a home.
We can even take the criminal analogy one step further and use it to describe each termite species.
Schedorhinotermes intermedius are the drug affected criminals looking for that quick, easy opportunity.
Nasutitermes walkeri are the teenagers hanging out at the corner shop making a nuisance of themselves and doing more visible damage than anything else.
Mastotermes darwiniensis are the thugs using brute force to break in. Being discreet is not in their vocabulary.
Coptotermes acinaciformis are the “Oceans Eleven” of the termite species, highly organized, skilled and efficient. These guys will test any system and exploit its weakness.
And then finally there are the damp wood species which are the law-abiding citizens that really will only steal stuff off your front lawn during hard waste collection week.
We as pest managers need to remember that the general public quite often has had very little experience with termites and when first confronted with termite management, it can be overwhelming. Using an analogy like this, which they can relate to, is the quickest and easiest way for them to grasp the whole concept. Remember we’ve had a career time to get our heads around the concept of management.
Written by Jay Turner – Owner of Laguna Pest Control