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We have found termites in an old tree that was being removed, about 25 metres from the nearest part of the house.  It's an old house with a typical wooden roof structure, so termites are not good news.

I'm sure I need professional help but I know nothing about the subject, so I'd be very grateful for any advice on finding a good contractor.  (Language is not an issue.)

Thanks in advance.   

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Are you sure they are termites and not some other wood-eating insect?

Your house may well be safe even if they are - termites are NOT flying insects and travel underground really quite slowly....and will begin their assault on your house via the ground up.

First off, talk to the Mairie and find out if your area is known for termites, as the other poster indicated, presence of termites is notifiable by law.

Secondly contact an 'expert' to check your house for termites - that's the kind of surveyor who does all the checks for a house sale. (check pages jaunes for 'diagnostics immobilier') This should only cost you a max of a few hundred euros depending on the size of your house.

personally I wouldn't go straight to a treatment contractor unless you have a personal recommendation - there are known scams of siad treatment company offering 'free' checks and then very expensive treatment when it turns out your check was 'positive'.
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Thank you for the replies.  We live in a tiny hamlet where the mayor's office is only open on Mondays and Thursdays: I shall be knocking on the door on Monday morning.

I'm hoping that the termites won't have time to destroy my house during the weekend.

PS: yes, I have reason to believe that they are indeed termites.

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[quote user="Lou"]termites are NOT flying insects and travel underground really quite slowly....and will begin their assault on your house via the ground up.[/quote]

Sorry, not true - just like ants, once a year some of a termite colony grow wings and go where the wind takes them in order to mate and try and form new colonies. They do also travel underground.

"Les termites souterrains rencontrés en France utilisent principalement deux modes de propagation naturelle:

  • l'envol, généralement une fois l'an, d'adultes sexués (aussi appelé

    essaimage), qui vont quitter leur colonie pour en fonder de nouvelles"
Taken from Wikipedia:   http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoptera

Termites are very common in the Dordogne and I've seen local farmers make fires within the stumps of old tree trunks but I'm not sure if that's to destroy an existing colony or to discourage the possibility of a colony moving in.

Edit: It's not the queen that leaves, it's the would be new queens. Here's a better link and in English:  http://tinyurl.com/m6tsmc
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[quote user="Edward Trunk"]When they have finished the tree stump, they will move on in search of other food. They send scouts out underground to forage for fresh sources. It could be a long time before they reach your house. Incidentally, the queen can fly- she flies in May or thereabouts to found a new nest.[/quote]

Ah good! An odd Queen wont be much of a problem.

For an awful moment I remember swarms in Africa and South America.

Africa very nice fried but in South America we steamed them in banana leaves.


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  • 2 weeks later...
I've had the diagnostic and there are traces of past activity in the house (and the little beasts have been found in two more places in the garden).  So I'm stuck with the prospect of paying for the whole house to be treated.

Oh well, it will help with the unemployment problem.

I'm also stuck with the problem of getting rid of the dead tree.  I know I need to burn it; my question is, is there any reason why I shouldn't cut it up and burn the pieces on my domestic fire?  I would have trouble finding a place for an outdoor bonfire that wouldn't threaten other things.

We have a standard insert, i.e. it's a closed fire.  Obviously I wouldn't store the wood in the house.

By the way, I've done my civic duty and told the mayor.  We live in an area that is known to have termites, and he wasn't greatly concerned.

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I'm no expert on the subject, but I wonder if in cutting up and thencarrying the wood to your house, you risk some of them falling out and landing somewhere else? Very difficult when you can't have a bonfire without risking other vegetation - I have similar problems.

I suppose you have no recourse from the people who carried out the termite diagnostic when you bought the house? If they missed the "traces" of old activity, could you claim something from them which could help towards the cost of the new treatment?

Good luck in getting it sorted out pronto.
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A small piece of good news.  I took some rubbish to the local déchetterie this morning and (without much hope) asked the supervisor if he could accept wood that was known to have termites in it.  To my surprise, he said yes, no problem.  There is a size limit, but that applies to all logs or branches, with or without termites.

For me that's going to be far easier than burning it.

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I quoted what the déchetterie man had told me to a professional who came to my house today to give me a quotation for anti-termite treatment.  He said it wasn't true; there is a legal obligation to burn contaminated wood or to give it an approved treatment before transporting it anywhere.  He also said that déchetterie staff don't always know the regulations.

So I turned to Google, as one does in time of trouble, and it seems the professional is

correct.  I'm sorry if my previous post gave any false comfort. 

In case anyone needs to know, here is what I found, quoting la loi n° 99-471 du 8 juin 1999 :

Dans les zones contaminées par les termites qui ont été délimitées* par le préfet :

Pour les travaux de démolition de bâtiments et en présence de bois et matériaux contaminés par les termites il faut :

      · brûler sur place ou à défaut traiter avant tout transport les bois et matériaux infestés,

      · déclarer ces opérations à la mairie du lieu de situation du bâtiment.

I read the second sentence of this to mean wherever there is contaminated wood, not only when you are demolishing a building.


*Here is a site where you can find out whether your commune is délimitée for this purpose:


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  • 1 month later...

sorry no photos ,wish I thought to take some !  we foolishly did a total renovation in charante maritime , consequently have seen many of the brutes, they honeycombe into old wet/damp wood, if you dig up any old rotten wood , break it bang it on a stone , or perhaps when sawing old wood, you might disturb hundreds of tiny (ant sized) white maggots, or more occasionally find a "queeen " a horrible thing about the size of your little finger. on old oak beams you see pale whitish tracks where they have scratched the surface , or the beam might be honeycombed usually horizontally along the beam., if the wall is damp they may get into the end of the beam inside the wall (out of sight ) or again out of sight in the loft on the upper side of rafters.

                                                                                                                                                                                       regards dirk

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I can remember the little horrors in Africa - they swarm - often late in the day, flying quite some distance &  find a partner and 'tail' one another for a while then start thinking of breeding & tunneling.

Their tunnels can be long  -  metres in our case, and they ate the wooden (dry, and so was the ground) skirtings. We discovered they were there as we could hear them chomping.  We had slate floors and solid concrete under the slate, as well as brick etc walls, so not much for them to eat.  But they made the skirtings paper thin!

They were got rid of via pumping gas under the house into their tunnels and this did permanently work.  This was in the mid 1960s, so perhaps the technology has changed ?

So they are a risk in the garden, and difficult to get rid of by just burning the wood.

Good luck with them, but get an expert in!

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