Thursday, 29 April 2010

Termites and Capricorn beetles in the Languedoc

The termite problem in France, long localized mainly with the Southwest region, is now recognized by the government to be a nationwide epidemic. In order to establish effective and definitive means of fighting this scourge, we should learn more about termites, the insects that eat away our house and home...
Termites, the perfect social insects
  • Clearly defined roles
    The termites found in buildings in France belong to the genus Reticulitermes. Like bees and ants, they are organized in a society where each member has a very specific role.

  • Workers, feeding of the colony
    Tiny white individuals that move quickly, they make up the largest portion of the colony. They literally swarm inside the pieces of wood they infest. Their work involves consuming cellulose, digesting it and then regurgitating it to feed all the other members of the colony. This is what is known as trophallaxis. Always on the lookout for new sources of food, workers tirelessly prospect at full speed. They are also the ones that cause damage and that build the "cords" that reveal the presence of termites in the walls of a building while allowing them to move around obstacles without being exposed to the light.

  • Soldiers, defending of the colony
    White and the same size as workers, "soldiers" are significantly fewer in number. They can be recognized by their disproportione, highly-colored head with

    its two large mandibules used to defend the colony from its enemies, primarily ants. The size of their head prevents them from feeding themselves: workers feed them by trophallaxis.

  • Swarming, or the search for new wood
    A typical sign of termite presence, swarming occurs once per year, between January and April depending on the species. During this period, hundreds of winged reproductive termites fly out of the holes dug by the workers. Couples are formed by chance. The luckiest ones land near another hole in wood and are therefore able to reproduce and rapidly create a new termite population.

  • Reproductive couples, phenomenal fertility
    The termite colonies found in France contain a number of reproductive couples. The first couple originates in the swarming that leads to the formation of a new colony. Later, many individual termites become male or female reproducers. These individual termites, called neotenic, contribute to the growth of the colony without having to face the constraints of the outside world... This method of reproduction notably allows termite colonies to multiply through a "cutting off" process brought about by movements of the soil or rubble...

  • Hard-to-locate parasites
    The winged reproducers are the only termites that are not blind: the others fear light and avoid it at all cost. That is why they remain inside wood, away from the light and therefore out of sight...
Woodworm have to be taken much more seriously in France than in the UK - partly due to the presence of termites and partly due to the fact that the House Longhorn Beetle is relatively common.

It is normally pretty obvious if you have House Longhorn (also known as Capricorn Beetle, Italian Beetle, or Hylotropes Bajulus). The large oval holes (approx. 10mm diameter) are the main giveaway. Most other types of woodworm bore much smaller holes.The noise of the beetle is a clicking noise, usually audible at night.

If you do have House Longhorn, the treatment will be more extensive than for standard woodworm treatment. As House Longhorn can do a lot of damage in a short space of time, the woodworm treatment fluid will have to be injected into larger dimensioned timbers, rather than just being applied to the surface. Special injectors are available for this purpose, which, I believe are actually produced by a company based in France. Digg It! Stumble Delicious Technorati Tweet It! Facebook

Enjoy a romp around the Aude, Languedoc

This Aude Languedoc property site is designed to give extra credibilty to buy property and find property for sale in the Aude, Languedoc as a holiday home or main residence.

There is detailed information on all you need to know about buying property in France and especially in the Aude,Languedoc. This can be found on

If you come to the Aude to buy Property, and need a Gite to stay in, have a look here:

Happy romp!!