Termites are one of the worst pests that a home or area can suffer from. They attack not only the wood that can be in a house (doors, windows, floors, beams, cabinets …) but also other materials that can contain cellulose such as books, carpets …
They are a very destructive plague and, on numerous occasions, no one is really aware of the scale of the problem until it is too late, and these insects have caused irreversible damage.
The problem is more common in some areas than in others, although, unfortunately, it starts to be common in places where it was not before. The concern, therefore, is also growing, and homeowners who do not want to see their homes destroyed look for ways to protect themselves and, above all, prevent it.
One way to do this, not the only one, is to use woods that naturally offer resistance or repel termites.
To begin with this task of prevention, the first thing to do is to understand what drives them.
Why do termites attack wood?
There are different types of termites. The most well-known are underground, dry wood and wet wood. Each of them has their own characteristics and habits, although they also share many things.
The first thing to understand is that termites do not seek wood itself, but cellulose. A fibrous carbohydrate found in almost all plants and, therefore, one of the main components of wood.
This interest in cellulose also explains why termites attack the sapwood with much more emphasis, which is the part of the trunk of a tree that surrounds the heartwood (core) and which in turn is surrounded by the bark. This intermediate layer, which is generally lighter in color, is wetter, lighter and has a higher proportion of cellulose.
This does not mean that termites cannot attack the heart of a wood, but that they will do so to a lesser extent.
Moisture it also plays a key role. Most termites do not attack dry wood (less than 12% humidity). Although there are some exceptions, for example, species C. brevis, It is common in human constructions, and not so much in humid environments.
In relation to prevention, the first measure that we must take is prevent the wood from contacting the ground. In most cases, when tracing to find the initial source of the problem, it is usually a beam buried directly in the ground, the root of a cut tree that was left close to the house, stacked firewood, etc. In contact with the soil, the wood deteriorates more quickly and its degree of humidity increases, becoming a magnet for termites and other xylophagous insects.
TYPES OF TERMITE RESISTANT WOOD
Why are some woods naturally more resistant?
Some woods, more specifically the heartwood, naturally contain compounds such as essential oils, resins, tannins, terpenes, phenolic compounds or some toxic water-soluble substances. These components can have effects on fungi and insects that try to feed on them. Sometimes it repels them, inhibits their development and sometimes it just kills them.
However, over time, resins and many of these compounds disappear, and with them the natural resistance of these woods to termites. Therefore, although these woods are used, some treatment, maintenance and periodic supervision are always convenient.
Toxic species (Malaysian forests)
There are some woods that are especially toxic to termites. These are known as Malaysian Woods and are found naturally in the forests of Malaysia, and there are also some such species in Hawaii. These include tualang, sentan, kempas.
The use of treated wood has not stopped growing, especially in areas and countries where termites are a common problem. For example, in the United States.
Treated wood does not only improve in terms of the time it takes to decompose and, therefore, to become food for termites. In addition, if components such as boron salts We added an extra barrier, since this chemical has effects on the reproductive cycle of termites.
Composite or Technological Wood
Technological wood, also called composite or wpc, is a compound obtained mainly from the union of wood fibers and resins. A priori, because it contains wood, it is also food for termites.
However, in addition to being chemically treated to avoid this problem, this wood derivative is also largely plastic, an unattractive product for termites, and it does not make sense for them to attack this material with natural wood at their fingertips.
What about chipboard and MDF?
Despite popular belief, MDF and cardboard are no exception and can be affected by termites. It is more or less the same as the composite, which is made of wood and therefore contains cellulose.