A plague of these insects threatens the town of Checa where many of its buildings, some historic, are made of wood
What wars and natural catastrophes had not caused for centuries in the small town of Checa (Guadalajara) can now be achieved by some small animals classified in the infraorder of neoptera insects: termites. A plague of these isoptera, cousins of the cockroaches with which they share a prehistoric ancestor, threatens the future of the buildings in this town, almost all built with wood from the surrounding forests.
And they are not properties of little importance. Despite the fact that Checa barely has 300 registered inhabitants -the population multiplies in summer-, it has some 17th-century town halls, a 17th-century church with large carvings from the same period, the 18th-century mansion of the Pelegrines, and that of the García or Counts of Clavijo, from the same century. Historic buildings that are now threatened by these insects that have the bad habit -for humans- of feeding on the cellulose in the wood that they end up degrading with the protozoa in their digestive system because, although they cannot digest the cellulose, they do take advantage of its nutrients in this way.
war on termites
As a simple wooden beam contains cellulose, the entire beam can be eaten by termites, which can even burrow through the concrete to reach the wood. This is the fear of the residents of Checa whose city council has declared war on these animals. "We have already started the termite eradication treatments in the urban area," explains the mayor of this town in the Señorío de Molina de Aragón, Jesús Alba, whose city council has awarded a company, "Anticimex" the task of ending them .
Termite infestation found in the locality.
"The works consist of the installation of 150 baits through deep holes in public roads that will serve to treat the affected houses but also as a prevention method for those that have not shown any sign of deterioration so far," says the mayor, who He does not hide his concern because the structures of some houses have already been affected and the termites, in their infinite voracity, have even destroyed wooden mailboxes.
The baits placed inhibit the formation of chitin, a substance necessary in the natural process of termite molting. The result of this treatment will not be known in the short term since it will be necessary to wait about five years to confirm its effectiveness and verify that there are no termites left. According to specialized companies, the control and elimination of this type of pest, fighting termites is not an easy task because they are social insects that live in grouped colonies building nests or termite mounds.
Although they are generally found in tropical climates, they are able to adapt to temperate climates. From the ground they sneak into the structures of the houses through imperceptible holes and, in a short time, small knocks begin to be heard on the walls and floors that cause the worker termites to feed or warn the rest of the colony of some danger. Later blemishes and cracks will appear in the wood as they tunnel from the inside out, and doors and windows will be more difficult to close or fit.
Companies specializing in treating these pests also stress that the dark spots that sometimes appear on furniture, windows or beams may actually be the droppings left by these insects and not a harmless effect of humidity. They are signs of the presence of termites that are well known by the residents of Checa.