How to Handle Termites in Your French Property

How to Handle Termites in Your French Property

When buying or selling property in France, one of the things you’ll need to be on the lookout for is the presence of termites. Hard to detect and capable of impressive amounts of destruction in very little time, termites do not make ideal neighbours but luckily, with a little help from the professionals they can be fully treated.

Also known as white ants, these incredibly invasive little creatures made their way to France from America in the 19th Century and after invading Bordeaux spread throughout the South West.

There are still some regions of the country which are classed as termite-free, but the problem is widespread so a termite check is always advisable when you’re thinking about selling or buying property in France.

To learn more about this pesky parasite and how to deal with an invasion, simply check out our guide on how to handle termites in your French property below.

What exactly are termites?

Termites or white ants as they’re also known are actually members of the cockroach family. Wood-eating, they live and work in colonies of up to 200,000 insects, made up of a king and queen, nymphs and workers.

Where do they live?

7 species of termite have currently been identified in France, 5 of which live underground and 2 of which live in dry wood. So, depending on the species, they may be hidden in a series of tunnels under your property or nesting in trees and logs in the grounds.

How do they spread?

Termites spread from property to property in early spring when they swarm and mate. They can also be spread by propagation when termite-infested wood is moved from one location to another. Only 100 insects are needed to form a new colony and they can now be found in over 50 departments in France.

What are the risks if I find termites on my property?

Organised and efficient, termites have just one mission in life, eating as much wood as possible. They burrow into timber and eat from the inside out, often going undetected for months or even years. They enter buildings via drains, waste pipes, ducts and joints and once inside, they can cross concrete, brick and even metal to get to their favourite food source.

Worker termites build galleries to provide easy access to timber and then go in search of fresh food to take back to the colony. By feeding on wood inside or outside your property, they can cause structural damage and create an unsafe environment which may lead to costly repairs.

How do I know if my property is infested with termites?

As termites are notoriously hard to spot, the best way to find out whether they are living in a property you currently own or a property you hope to buy or sell is with a termite survey known as the ‘etat des risques parasitaires’.

Currently only compulsory in departments declared by the French government as ‘termités’ or ‘partiellement termités’, this survey will be carried out by a qualified professional who will then provide a full report of their findings.

If you’re in any doubt, your local Mairie can tell you whether a property is located in a termite zone or not.

If I’m planning on selling/buying a property in France, who is responsible for commissioning the report?

As the owner of a French property located in a termite zone, you will be responsible for commissioning the termite survey when you decide to sell.

As the potential buyer of a French property located in a termite zone, you will receive a full copy of the termite report from the current owner.

What does the report cover exactly?

During the termite survey, the surveyor will check for visible signs of termite activity, active termites and wood decay in the main building and any outhouses/external structures on the property.

Who carries out the inspection and produces the report?

The survey can only be carried out by a qualified professional who will use a sound/movement detector to check whether there are termites in the house, garden or any outhouses in the grounds. You can find a full list of certified technicians on the Centre Technique de Bois et de l’Ameublement (CTBA) website here (In French).

How long is the report valid for?

The report is valid for 6 months, so if you are thinking of selling your property the inspection must take place no earlier than 6 months before the sale contract is signed.

What happens if no certificate is provided?

As the owner of a French property located in a termite zone, if you fail to provide a termite certificate, the buyer will be within his rights to cancel the sale. You may also be responsible for paying any and all costs related to the treatment of an infestation if termites are found on the property by the future owner. You also face being taken to court for non-disclosure of hidden defects if the buyer decides to take legal action at a later stage.

As the buyer of a property, you also have the right to commission an additional independent termite report by a company of your choice if you feel it is necessary.

What happens if termites are found in the property?

If termites are discovered in your property, you will be obliged to contact your local Mairie and make an official termite declaration. You will also be obliged to have the problem treated and repair, remove or replace any timber which has been affected by the termites. You can find a full list of certified technicians to carry out termite treatments on the Centre Technique de Bois et de l’Ameublement (CTBA) website here (in French).

If you are in the process of buying a property and the termite report comes back as positive, you have several options. You can withdraw from the sale completely with a full refund of your deposit, request a drop in the selling price to include the cost of treating the termites, or ask the owner to have the problem treated before you complete the sale.

How can I treat the problem?

There are several options for treating a termite invasion. Once the infected wood has been removed and replaced, you will need to prevent it from being attacked again in the future. Depending on the size and severity of the invasion, the technicians will be able to advise you about treatment options which include:

  • Installing a physical barrier made from steel mesh to stop them from entering your home.
  • Installing termite traps laden with bait which the worker termites will take back to the nest, killing the colony.
  • Applying a chemical barrier treatment to the wood and timber in your home to protect it from termites.
  • Applying liquid pesticides to the soil around your property to create a chemical barrier to prevent the termites entering the house.

Are there any other precautions to take?

There are quite a few things you can do in and around your property to make it less attractive to termites. By following a few simple guidelines, you will hopefully be able to keep your French home termite free:

  • Make sure drainage systems and gutters are properly maintained to reduce moisture in and around your home.
  • Have cracks in the walls or foundations filled to avoid termites entering the house.
  • Check that pipes/holes for utilities are properly filled with cement or plaster.
  • Make sure you have any leaky taps, air conditioning units or water pipes fixed immediately.
  • Ensure that house vents aren’t blocked.
  • Don’t store firewood close to the house and where possible raise logs off the ground using bricks or a metal frame.
  • Try not to plant any trees or greenery too close to the house, and remove any plants growing on wooden surfaces such as sheds or outhouses.
  • Check your property every few months for signs of termite activity.

Journal of Biodiversity, Bioprospecting and Development
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  • Research Article
  • J Biodivers Biopros Dev 2017, Vol 4(2): 167
  • DOI: 10.4172/2376-0214.1000167

Bioactivity of Some Plant Extracts Against Termite Odontotermes obesus (Rambur) (Blattodea: Termit > Khal >1 * , Arooj Arif 1 , Ayesha Aihetasham 2 and Dildar Ahmad Alvi 1 1 Department of Biological Sciences, Forman Christian College University, Lahore 54600, Pakistan 2 Department of Zoology, Punjab University, New Campus Lahore-54660, Pakistan

Received Date: Sep 29, 2017 / Accepted Date: Dec 19, 2017 / Published Date: Dec 30, 2017

A study was carried out to determine the chemical constituents of wood extractives from Ashoka, Saraca asoca (Roxb) and Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) (Southern Magnolia) against Odontotermes Obesus (Rambur) under laboratory conditions in Forman Christian College University (Lahore, Pakistan) in June 2016. Extraction was done by soxhlet apparatus. The analysis of these compounds was performed by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry of wood extractives of Saraca asoca detected 4-[(1E)-3-Hydroxy-1-propenyl]-2-methoxyphenol; Hexdecanoic acid, methyl ester; n-Hexadecanoic acid; 5,6-Dimethoxy phthalaldehydic acid; 9,12-Octadecadienoic acid, methyl ester, (E,E)-; 9,12-Octadecadienoic acid (Z,Z)-; Oleic acid; Octadecanoic acid; 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, mono(2-ethylhexyl) ester. Compounds in wood extractives of Magnolia grandiflora were Cyclopentane carboxylic acid, 2-methyl-4-(phenylmethylene)-, methyl ester; 4-((1E)-3-Hydroxy-1-propenyl)-2- methoxyphenol; n -Hexadecanoic acid; 5,6-Dimethoxy phthalaldehydic acid; 7-(1,3-Dimethylbuta-1,3- dienyl)-1,6,6-trimethyl-3, 8-dioxatricyclo[,4)]; 9,12-Octadecadienoic acid, methyl ester, (E,E)-; Oleic acid; 16-Methyloxacyclohexadeca-3,5-dien-2-one; Germacra-1(10), 4,11(13)-trein-12-oic acid, 6.alpha.- hydroxy-gamma-lactone, (E,E);5,6-Azulenedicarboxaldehyde,1,2,3,3a,8,8a-hexahydro-2,2,8-trimethyl-, (3a.alpha.,8.alpha.,8a.alpha)-(-)-; Aromadendrene oxide-(2); Cedran-diol, 8S, 14-; Cis-Z-.alpha.-Bisabolene epoxide; 2-Dodecen-1-yl(-)succinic anhydride; 3-Buen-2-ol, 2-methyl-4(1,3,3-trimethyl-7- oxabicyclo[4.1.0]hept-2-yl)-.Based on the feeding activity, wood extracts were arranged in descending order of preference; Ashoka > Magnolia. So these could prove useful in developing a soil barrier to block termite activity and serve as a replacement to synthetic chemicals.

Keywords: Biological control; Termites; Species; Evaluation; Saraca asoca ; Anti-microbial


Biological control is generally visible as both providing a permanent solution to the pest problem and less degradation of the environment [1]. Termites are the main source of wood degradation in the tropics and subtropical regions [2,3]. Termites are predominant members of the insect order, Isoptera now blattodea and more than 2600 species of termites are found around the world [4,5]. Ecologically, termites are classified under three main groups based on their feeding and nesting behavior: damp wood termites, dry wood termites and subterranean termites [6]. Termites are of great economic importance as they damage a great variety of wood in buildings, crops, local plantation and forests. For the prevention of heavy timber damage, we need allembracing knowledge of natural resistance of native plants to termites and their feeding preference [7]. There are 51 species of termites present in Pakistan thriving diverse ecological zones with 11 pest species, which are playing havoc [8]. In the past, the control of termites was totally based on the synthetic insecticides especially the persistent organochlorine [9-11]. Residual effects, and development of resistance in target pests, are considered as major drawbacks. Also, adverse effects on human health and concerns about environmental deterioration [12,13] have given impetus to the replacement of synthetic insecticides with biorational approaches and is now universally accepted and practiced worldwide. Magnolia grandiflora L . belongs to family Magnoliaceae. It is commonly known as Southern magnolia. Its wood color is light, with white sapwood and light to dark brown heartwood. It is highly resistant to shock, will not shrink, and holds nails well [14]. It is used for furniture, cabinets, paneling, veneer, boxes, and crates [14,15]. Seeds are eaten by squirrel, opossum, quail, turkey, mice, and chipmunks [15]. Seeds are high in fat and are a good energy source for migratory birds [16]. They are eaten by eastern kingbirds, mockingbirds, robins, wood thrushes, and red-eyed vireos. Pollinators, especially beetles, are attracted to the pollen that is high in protein. A variety of extracts have been taken from leaves, fruits, bark, and wood for pharmaceutical applications [15]. It is a plant of medicinal significance and also grown as an ornamental tree. Its flowers are used in various traditional herbal remedies. Different phytochemicals like alkaloids, carbohydrates, flavonoids, glycosides, gums & mucilage, phenolic, phlobatannins, reducing sugar, saponins, steroids, tannins and terpenoids in variable amount. The diversity of phytochemicals in this species is justifying the cause of its utility in modern medical investigations and even in traditional plant based remedies. An aqueous extract of seed cones of this plant had induced apoptosis against B-cell lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). This shows the curative potentiality of this species. Additionally, the flower extract has antioxidant activity and is also known to decrease the melanin content. The leaves have shown antimicrobial property and phytotoxic effect on bean, corn and tobacco grown under greenhouse conditions. In recent years, various plant parts of this species were found to have anticancerous, anti-depressant, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory etc. properties. The genus is known to have nearly 255 different constituents including alkaloids, flavonoids, and terpenoids. Keeping in view the medicinal importance of this species, present investigation has been carried out to characterize the species on morphological basis and to screen seeds and leaves for various photochemical. Saraca asoca which is also called Saraca indica is the ancient tree of the family Caesalpinaceae. This tree is considered as the first in medicinal values since the Buddhist period and also, the lord Buddha is believed to be born under the asoca tree. It is commonly called as “Ashoka “which is a Sanskrit word meaning “without sorrow”. It is believed that the very touch of asoca tree removes the worries and anxiety of human being in Hindu culture. It is believed from ancient period of time that asoca tree is close to women’s physical and mental health and also it is a tree of peace and happiness. It is traditionally found in India, Burma and Malaya. In India; it belongs to the Deccan plateau, Western Ghats, Himalaya, and Bengal. Ashoka is 10-15 m tall with long, beautiful, green foliage and attractive, a fragrant bunch of flowers with yellow and orange colors. In India, Ashoka is traditionally used in the treatment of excessive uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhea and depression in women. It is also used to treat inflammation, indigestion and also abnormal vaginal discharge. It is found to have anti-microbial, anticancer, anti-haemorrhagic, anti-oxytocic activities.

Materials and Methods

Selection of plant species

Commercial timbers were selected for experiments. All the wood species were cut from standing trees. Following plant species were used for subsequent studies of their effects on the termites. All the plant species were collected from the botanical garden of Forman Christian College Lahore, Pakistan.

Extraction method for crude extracts of the wood

Crude extracts of the wood, a non-polar and polar solvents, methanol, was used by incubating sawdust of Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) and Ashoka (Saraca asoca) in order to remove moisture. The samples were then preserved in zip lock bags for future use and to avoid any contamination. One hundred gm of saw dust of each wooden species with solvent were placed separately in a Soxhlet extractor and extracted with 150 ml of methanol according to ASTM (2003) standards. After extraction, each extract was kept separately under refrigeration at 4°C and subsequently the bioactivity of the extracted compounds was checked against termites.

Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

For the identification of components, extracts from the Soxhlet extractor were processed through hydro distillation, for GC-MS analysis. Samples were distilled below 200°C and filtered through 0.20 μm pore size filter paper. The gas chromatography temperature ranged of 60 to 310°C with 10°C/min, with a solvent delay of 4 min. The temperature of the injector was 240°C. The inert gas was helium at a flow rate of 1.0 mL/min, and 2 μL of sample was injected sample in the split less mode. The percent composition of the samples was calculated. The quantitative analysis was based on the percent area of each peak of the sample compounds. The mass spectrum of each compound was compared with those of NIST 98 (Mass Spectral Library, National Institute of Standards and Technology, MD, USA) as modified by Jianu et al. 2013.

Collection of Odontotermes Obesus

Odontotermes obesus were collected mainly from Forman Christian College botanical garden. Some were also collected through the baiting already buried wooden blocks in the field about 4-5 months in the buckets. Collection were made feasible using artificial baiting methods such as bucket traps, wetted toilet rolls, and cardboard in of plastic bottles with small holes in the base and sides to permit the entry of termites. The baits were buried in soil and termites were collected as and when required. Termites after collection were first acclimatized under lab conditions for 2-3 days/72hrs and then used for experimentation.

Evaluation of feeding preferences

Feeding bioassays choice and repellency bioassay: Repellent responses of wood extracts from Magnolia grandiflora (Magnolia) and Saraca asoca (Ashoka), were observed against O. obesus by cutting Whatman filter paper No. 1 into two halves according to size of Petri dish (70 × 10 mm) and placed into the dish in such a way that there was space between two halves to allow separate treatment. One half was treated with specific amount of plant extracts 3%, 6%, 9%, 12% and distilled water was treated as control. Then filter papers were air dried for few minutes. Three replicates of each extract including control were prepared. Ten mature workers and 1 soldier (ratio 10 m:1 s) of O. obesus were released separately into each dish between treated and untreated zone and observations were made at 15 min intervals. After introduction of termites into the dishes, the number of termites oriented towards the control half were counted as repelled. A treatment concentration was considered repellent when 21 (sum of three replicates) of 30 termites were present on untreated area against respective percent concentration.

No choice test under laboratory conditions: Filter paper for each concentration Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ) and Ashoka (Saraca asoca ) was treated separately as mentioned above to evaluate the mortality and feeding of O.obesus . Termite mortality was recorded periodically during the bioassays up to 7 days. Percentage mortality was calculated using the following formula-

Where, Mo = mortality rate of treated termite (%), Me = mortality rate of control (%), Mc =corrected mortality rate (%).

Statistical analysis: Data were analyzed statistically by using co-stat and standard deviation to evaluate the consumption, mortality on the wooden extracts against O. obesus in Anova Test. Results were statistically significant in all cases (P 0.05, F=6.41) results.

Plant extract
Scientific Name Mean average
Anova Test
Magnolia Magnolia
grand flora L
10.0 % P>0.05
Ashoka Saracaasoca(Roxb) 20.0 %

Table 2: Average mortality and standard error of Odontotermes obesus , after 07 Days as a result of direct treatment of crude extracts with the filter paper.

Table 3 shows workers of Odontotermes obesus exposed to different concentrations of 3%, 6%, 9% and 12% of extracts of Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) respectively. The highest feeding % age was observed at 3% of concentration with 85.5% feeding. The lowest feeding % age was observed at 12% of concentration with 67.5% feeding.

Wood Extract used Scientific
Conc. Used (%) Mean Termite feeding (g) ± SE Feeding %age
Magnolia Magnolia
grandiflora L.
3 0.34 ± 0.004 85.0
6 0.33 ± 0.004 82.5
9 0.31 ± 0.004 77.5
12 0.27 ± 0.005 67.5
Ashoka Saracaasoca(Roxb) 3 0.34 ± 0.004 85.0
6 0.32 ± 0.004 80.0
9 0.30 ± 0.001 75.0
12 0.26 ± 0.005 65.0

Table 3: Average feeding (g) and SE on filter paper by Odontotermes obesus exposed for 7 days to varying concentrations of wood extracts of Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ) and Ashoka (Saraca asoca ).

Table 3 shows workers of Odontotermes obesus exposed to different concentrations of 3, 6, 9 and 12 of extracts of Ashoka (Saraca asoca ) respectively. The highest feeding % age was observed at 3% of concentration with 85.0% feeding. The lowest feeding % age was observed at 12% of concentration with 65.0% feeding.

Choice test and repellency bioassay: When workers of Odontotermes obesus were exposed to Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) extracts to detect the repellency on treated and untreated filter paper in Petri dishes. There were repellent effects on termites, which moved from treated to untreated; at 6%, 20 termites were observed; at 9%, 22 termites were observed; at 12%, 17 termites were observed on untreated filter paper. However, at 3%, concentration 23 termites were present on untreated filter paper indicating repellency. When workers of Odontotermes obesus were exposed to Ashoka (Saraca asoca ) extracts to detect the repellent and attractive effects on treated and untreated filter paper in Petri dishes. There were repellent effects on termites, which moved from treated to untreated at 6%, 16 termites were observed; at 9%, 15 termites were observed; at 12%, 12 termites were observed on untreated filter paper. However, at 3%, concentration 24 termites were present on untreated filter paper indicating repellency. In magnolia 3 and 9% concentration were repellent and in Ashoka only 3% concentration was repellent (Table 4).

Plant Species Concentrations used (%) Repellent Effects on termites
Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) 3 23
6 20
9 22
12 17
Ashoka (Saracaasoca) 3 24
6 16
9 15
12 12

Table 4: Repellency and choice bioassays against termite Odontotermes obesus (Rambur) treated at different concentrations of Magnolia and Ashoka plant species.


In the past, the control of termites has been totally based on chemicals especially synthetic insecticides such as persistent organochlorine (OC) and organophosphate (OP) insecticides [10,17]. The residual effects as well as the development of insecticide resistance in target pests with environmental degradation, health effects, are some of the concerns in applying wider use of pesticides [18]. Replacement of synthetic by bio-rational insecticides is accepted worldwide and is thought to be a bio-rational approach [19]. In this respect bioactive compounds are much safer option and an alternative option to manage termites. The plant extracts are investigated for multidimensional approaches like, insecticidal, repellent, and antifeedant properties [20,21]. The chemicals defense in plants offer such promise of developing them as insecticides could prove effective against termites and other arthropods in management and replacement of prevalent application of insecticides in the environment [22]. In recent years, the biorational botanical insecticides gaining momentum in terms of the application along with termite control. The Lemon grass (Cymbopogon Citratus ), Cassia leaf (Cinnamomum cassia ), Vetiver (Vetiveria zizaniodes ), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citrodora , Eucalyptus globules ), Cedar wood (Cedrus atlantica), Clove bud (Syzgium aromaticum ) [20], Coleus amboinicus [23], Isoborneol [24] and Calotropis procera [25] are some of plants possessing anti-termite activities. The application of plant extracts along with their biocompounds when applied to termites using diverse solvents adversely effected termite behavior and subsequent their mortality [26-29]. The insecticidal activity of seed oil of J. curcas has several sterols and terpene alchohols [30]. The maximum wood protection against O. obesus and Microcerotermes beesoni termites by J. curcas oil and its toxic fraction were obtained at their highest concentration i.e., 20% [31]. Termite investigators in other parts of the world emphasized on Leaf and seed extracts of Jatropha curcas Linn . in various polar and non-polar solvents were used against workers and soldiers of subterranean termites, Odontotermes obesus (Ramb.) to determine the consequence on mortality and tunneling behavior. The reduction in tunnel length (mm) was observed in all extracts and was significantly different from their respective controls. Results are discussed in relation to possible differences of activities in various extracts towards mortality and tunneling of the termites. Wild Solanum nigrum contain higher concentrations of solanidine which it has toxicity on the potato tuber moth [32]. Ganapaty et al. [33] who noted that quinones extracted from the roots of Diospyros sylvatica caused higher mortality in the termite, Odontotermes obesus . Methanol extract of Eugenia caryophyllata bud (5.2 mg/cm 2 ) caused 100% mortality of Attagenus unicolor Japonicus during seven days after treatment [34]. The crude water extracts of Larix keptolepis wood containing flavonoids in large quantities exhibited potent termite, Coptotermes formosanus , feeding deterrent activities [35]. Gut microbes in Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus were affected when the neem extract was mixed with the food source [36]. The 5% chloroform extract of Lantana camara was found to be significantly effective against termite workers [37]. Manzoor et al. [27] report that activity of crude plant extracts against termites is often attributed to complex mixture of active compounds and that Ethyl acetate extract of Ocimum sanctum L . The crude extract of the leaves or fruits of S. incanum and W. somnifera are potentially useful as termite control agents in the termite breeding places in either the field or in infected houses. Mortalities in M. obesi were 100.00 ± 0.00, 91.06 ± 3.16 and 85.82 ± 2.17 at high, medium and low concentrations of leaf extract of E. helioscopia , respectively in 11th day. Mean mortality in O. lokanandi were 100 ± 0.00, 93.32 ± 3.35 and 78.83 ± 5.29 at high, medium and low concentrations of leaves of E. helioscopia , respectively in 7 th day. Mean mortalities in M. obesi were 100.00 ± 0.00, 100.00 ± 0.00 and 95.80 ± 1.03 at high, medium and low concentrations of leaf aqueous extracts of Calotropis procera in day 11 of the trial. the effects of leaf aqueous extracts of Calotropis procera when offered to workers and soldiers of Odontotermes lokanand for seven days in the form of soaked filter paper, percent mean mortality was 100.00 ± 0.00, 93.71 ± 1.83 and 87.43 ± 2.03 at high, medium and low concentrations respectively. Essential oils and plant extracts are still an important natural resource of pesticides/ insecticides [38,39] or larvicides [40,41] or insect repellents [42,43]. The present studies show that means % mortality recorded in O. obesus is 20%. Workers of O. obesus exposed to different concentrations of 3, 6, 9 and 12% of extracts of Ashoka (Saraca asoca ) respectively. The highest feeding % age was observed at 3% of concentration with 85.0% feeding. The lowest feeding % age was observed at 12% of concentration with 65.0% feeding, which means if the percentage of concentration is increased significantly then it could control termite and activity of plant extracts against termites is often attributed to complex mixture of active phytocompounds. Screening for anti-termitic activity of plant extracts with medicinal attributes could lead to the discovery of new agents for termite control.


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Citation: Rasib KZ, Arif, Aihetasham, A, Alvi DA (2017) Bioactivity of Some Plant Extracts Against Termite Odontotermes obesus (Rambur) (Blattodea: Termitidae). J Biodivers Biopros Dev 4:167. DOI: 10.4172/2376-0214.1000167

Copyright: © 2017 Rasib KZ, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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