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 TERMITES (FULL ARTICLE) 

There are approximately 2,600 species of termites worldwide. Most live in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Others live in temperate regions of the world. There are many people who think termites are white ants.  They are not!  Termites are an ancient insect order.  Their roots go back more than 180 million years.  Termites belong to the group of insects called Isoptera.  This term is Latin and refers to the fact that termites have 2 sets of wings that look very much alike.  Features that help to differentiate termites from ants include termites having straight, flexible antennae and a broad waist while ants have elbowed antennae and a narrow waist

TRIVIA

They say that termites can eat thru concrete. False or true?

No, they cannot eat through concrete. However, the issue is that no matter how well poured, concrete will crack as it settles. When poured around plumbing, it will retract or shrink from around the pipes. In slab construction there is a bath trap which essentially is a large square of dirt under a bathtub that is often unseen until it is too late.
Termites need the thickness of two sheets of paper or a business card to enter a building. This is not much! Often times, these cracks are hidden by carpeting, flooring and even walls.


The picture on the right side shows the actual sizes of termites with the queen in a termite colony....Yes they are that small and the queen that big. Click on the picture for an enlargement

Queen-termite-in-colony full-size

Can termites eat thru steel?

In fact they cannot eat thru steel. Steel is impervious to termites, but if the steel sheets are clad with gyprock or other easy to eat materials the termites will consume the paper on the back of this gyprock or cladding material. The acrid (waste product) faeces expelled on to a steel sheet, steel frame or steel sheathing can react to cause the steel to corrode. Once a steel surface is corroded it is easy, in particular for the Formosa termite, to go thru and reach the wood they are after. Conclusion: Steel is not termite proof but termite resistant

Do termites eat electrical cables?

Termites have been known to eat through plastic water pipes, lead batteries, car tyres and even billiard balls, so it’s no surprise that – despite providing no nutrition whatsoever – electrical, telephone and data cabling is also often on the menu. The use of traditional physical barriers, such as brass taping or nylon jackets as a cabling defence against termites for exterior cabling is highly receommended. Nylon is too hard for a termite to chew through, yet flexible enough to be wound and manipulated into required space. Depending on its purpose, some cables will need additional layers added, such as armouring for mechanical protection, or nylon.

Is all tropical Indonesian hardwood 100% termite resistant? 

NO, by far.....there are only a few Indonesian hardwood species which are "more or less" termite resistant.  Refer to the above underneath: 'Did you know".  Despite claims of most, - if not all -, other companies that Merbau and Bangkirai is 100% termite resistant IT IS NOT, since in most cases a mix of sap wood and heartwood is used.  Only the use of sole <heartwood> gives full protection. The outlines and explanations in the paragraphs below will give an unambigious answer to this question.  

 

 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO KNOW MORE IN MUCH DETAIL ABOUT TERMITES, THEIR HABITAT, THE DANGERS, TREATMENTS AND PROTECTION

What is a termite

There are about 2,600 species of termites, whereas the most notorious are the carpenter ants and the Formosa termites, the latter most dangerous and damaging.
Most termites (*) attack from natural grade. Only the drywood termite is able to nest in ceilings and roofs. Flying termites are visible when their colony swarms which are provoked by heavy rainfall and warm, humid temperatures among other triggers. Swarms occur when established colonies produce winged male and female termites in order to reproduce. After these mating flights, fertilized termites shed their wings and go on to establish new colonies underground. However, termites seen flying in a home are indicative of a mature colony which may sooner or later attack the wooden parts of your house from ground floor to natural grade. If unnoticed they may creep up into your roof and roof trusses.

(*) The common name "white ants" is a very poor choice, since termites are not ants and have been shown to be more closley related to cockroaches

Winged-termite

Winged termites

Termites and hardwood

There are only a few wood species available in the world which are 100% guaranteed termite resistant. These wood species can only be found in Africa and South America, but definitely NOT in Indonesia, however, there are a few Indonesian hardwood wood species which will give some protection when the proper part of the tree is used (the core or "heart").
Termites eat the cellulose from the wood cells. The harder these cells the less interested they are in their dinner. Any tree has a core called heartwood. This is the hardest part of a tree. There is only one wood species in Indonesia which have a core so dense and hard that termites can't eat it. This species is Bangkirai. Close followers are Bojonegoro Teak, Merbau and Iron wood.

 Timber-trunk

However, as is the case with all trees the outer rings (called sap wood) are soft or softer than the core (heartwood). As a result termites do not attack Bangkirai heartwood and in a lesser extend the heartwood from the other species mentioned, however, the termites attack the juicier and softer sapwood. The solution would be that we only buy heartwood from our suppliers, however, so unfortunate, this is merely a mission impossible, since the suppliers do not want to be left with only a stock of sap wood.

As such the suppliers mix the wood in portions of heartwood and sapwood, or will ask a 30% higher price for heartwood only. In conclusion we cannot guarantee that all the wood that we use is not susceptible to termite attacks whether it is Bangkirai, Teak, Merbau or Iron wood.

HOWEVER,....................

That was the bad news. There is also good news. When the mixed wood of one of the above mentioned wood species is used in combination with a termimesh system or a termite barrier you will be much safer for many, many years to come, whereas a combination with Bangkirai heartwood for the lower parts of the unit (from natural garde up to and including the groudn floor) is the best option. For those who have the budget available we offer the grandeur solution (see bottom of this page marked in orange).

Termite-mudding-1

 Termite-mudding-2

Termite mudding. If you see this: you have termites !!!!!!  Time to act quickly........

Fact

Most Indonesian wooden prefab house manufacturers state on their web sites that Bangkirai and Merbau are documented to absolutely termite resistant. We are of the believe that these companies should do their home work again and shall carefully read what is written in the following laboratory reports:  
J. Kenneth Crave and Carrie H.M. Tome from the University of Hawaii evaluated the resistance of Indonesian Bangkirai to the attack of the  dangerous Formosa termite. Their investigation revealed that "as with all durable tree species only the heartwood and not the sapwood of these species is reputed to be durable". See page 504, 2nd paragraph of their report which can be downloaded via https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/gracek/pdfs/212.pdf  This report supports our claim that the only termite resistant part of Bangkirai is heartwood and not sapwood.
A technical data sheet from the Australian timber base sheds some light on the termite resistance of Merbau and can be found at https://www.timber.net.au/?option=com_species&name=Merbau&Itemid=441  This article clearly indicates that only Merbau heartwood is termite resistant.

Conclusion

Based on the above, claiming that a wooden house built from Bangkirai or Merbau is 100% termite resistant is an untrue and deceiving statement, since not one supplier will supply heartwood only, hence they supply a mix of sapwood (very termite sensitive) and heartwood (not susceptible to termite attacks). As a result the house is built with this mix of sapwood and heartwood and thus.....not 100% termite resistant      
Main conclusion: One shall not automatically believe that a house built from Indonesian hardwood is 100% safe to termite attacks, at least we are not promoting this. By ruling out the extremely expensive Bojonegoro Teak and the fact that Iron wood is prohibited from being exported, Bangkirai or Merbau heartwood in combination with a termimesh system or a termite barrier application will give a fair, but not failsafe protection. Our statement that Bangkirai and Merbau sapwood is not termite resistant is therefore fully underlined by the above articles.

 termites-eating-sap-wood

 Termites eating sap wood (the yellow part). The red part is heartwood

What if you would not like to spend a lot of money to termite resistant hardwood?

There are a few solutions to apply a less costly system whether or not in combination with termite resistant hardwood. These systems will depend on your needs, whereas you may need to accept some esthetically less attractive alternatives. If you wish to read more about these systems click <here>  


(*) STOP PRESS: We can guarantee termite resistance:


On April 16, 2012 we signed an exclusive contract with one of the Balinese timber suppliers allowing us to select as much as possible Bangkirai heartwood from his stock yard at no extra costs, provided we buy all Bangkirai that we need for our projects from his company. This will put us in the unique position to guarantee that we are now able to fabricate timber houses, using as much as poissible Bangkirai heartwood (with a luttle mix of sap wood perhaps), which is definitely 100% termite resistant when in combination with our in-house (secret) developed termite treatment system. 

 

   

 

Prefab World Bali

Reviews from Prefab World Bali

"I am the project leader for the development of some large houses to be constructed on the island of Kauai. I have thoroughly investigated the option of built on site versus purhasing the pre-fab home from Baliprefabworld. I am convinced that working with Baliprefabworld is the most economical, efficient and effective way to go. The beauty and aesthetics of these homes are truly wonderful. We are planning to work with Baliprefabworld to use a variety of their standard models to design the homes we want.  The professionalism, quality of materials, and design capacity of Baliprefabworld is exemplary. Steven Ott, Berkeley, USA."
Review from: Steven Ott, Berkeley, USA
Project: Resort in Kauai, Hawaii
Date: 10-06-2017
Rating: 5 out of 5.

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