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Subterranean termites are social insects, feeding on cellulose and living in colonies in the soil. These colonies are close to moisture, and can be readily relocated due to temperature or other environmental changes. Termites travel through soil, in wood itself, or through shelter tubes. In the termite colony there are generally several generations present. The colony is made up of several castes (forms) (larvae, nymphs, secondary and primary reproductives, soldiers and workers), who carry out specific duties or functions. The female reproductives lay thousands of eggs. These eggs hatch and pass through an immature stage (larvae) before finally differentiating into either a worker, soldier or reproductive caste. The primary female reproductive (the queen), is very rarely found in Ontario, whereas secondary reproductives in the colony carry on extensive reproduction. The two wingless non-reproductive castes consist of the soldiers and workers.
Suppression refers to measures intended to reduce and eventually eradicate termites from infested materials in a designated area. Suppression methods include systematic location and destruction of colonies not associated with buildings (such as in street trees), systematic inspection of wood products leaving an infested area to quarantine the infestation, burning of infested lumber and heat treatment of reclaimed lumber.
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The subterranean termite Reticulitermis flavipes (Kollar) is probably the most destructive and widely distributed species in North America.
This species has acclimatized to southern Ontario to such a degree that 27 municipalities report some degree of infestation. Subterranean termites were first reported in Ontario at Point Pelee in 1929. It has subsequently been reported in Toronto (1938), Windsor (1950), Kincardine (1954), Oxley (1955), Amherstburg and Dresden (1968) and Guelph (1975).
Presently in Metropolitan Toronto, the termite infested area extends through a radius of approximately 30 kilometers.
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