I want to be entirely clear, THIS IS NOT MY HOUSE.
May 17, 2009 4:57 PM   Subscribe

A place that my husband and I spend a lot of time in has termites. A plethora of questions about termites and my possibly insane level of fear about them follows.

So, I help to run a theater group, and we work out of this building that belongs to the city. It's made out of, and I am not making this up, timbers from a bridge that burned sometime after the civil war. The building's whole story is quite long, but right now we have noted that recently termites swarmed in there. They are dead - well, a lot of them are - there are still some live ones around. We have a bunch of fabric stored in a dry room that is on the 2nd floor - the place where most of the infestation seems to be is also on the 2nd floor, but not in our room. (We looked. A lot.) I think they are IN the beams that are built into the walls in the main rooms (our room is NOT a main room). I am freaking out on a couple of levels:

1) Can we bring these things HOME with us? (We have a termite contract on our house.)

2) Our stored fabric. Do they care about it? Termites? They are not in there right now, but we don't really have anywhere to PUT it otherwise. I think they will eat cotton. :/ if we are not seeing them in there . . . are we okay? I have no idea what to do.

This is a very old building so I accept that there are bugs and maybe some mice (that are routinely treated for) but this termite thing is FREAKING ME THE EFF OUT because they look SO APOCALYPTIC. FWIW the site coordinator knows that there is a problem - at least us and the cleaning lady have told him already that there is a serious issue and he's there daily so he should know. Thank you in advance.
posted by Medieval Maven to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
1) You don't need to worry about it. Termites are fairly fragile, and dessicate easily. Even if one survived the trip, without a queen the colony would cease to exist.

2) Termites eat cellulose, so I would worry about the fabric. Store the fabric in sealed plastic bags.

Hope this helps.
posted by bolognius maximus at 6:40 PM on May 17, 2009

You might want to suggest to the owner that they call Termidor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:33 AM on May 18, 2009

bolognius (and anyone else answering this question): from the first Google hit for "cotton cellulose", text visible in the search result listings:
Cellulose is one of many polymers found in nature. Wood, paper, and cotton all contain cellulose.
posted by amtho at 1:16 AM on May 18, 2009

  1. Termites will eat your fabric if they can get to it
  2. A casual visual inspection is no guarantee that there are none in your fabric (they're very small)
  3. If there are termites in your fabric, you risk transferring them if you move the fabric
  4. Termites are very fragile, so the risk is very low
  5. Termites cannot stand sunlight, so you could ensure the fabric is termite-free by hanging it in the sun for a while
  6. Don't panic - the risk is very low that you are likely to transfer them to your home in any way.

posted by dg at 4:12 AM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Okay, thank you for the answers. We are looking into whether he has already treated for them (we were not there when they swarmed last week, and there are just a lot of DEAD ones now; we saw a couple live ones yesterday). If he's treated, I think we are mostly okay, but we will probably get a load of those huge ziploc bags for the bolts and trim and move the long upholstery bolts somewhere else.

God, this is SO FOUL. I can handle bugs but not in the thousands.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:14 AM on May 18, 2009

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