We’re committed to supporting property owners who are dealing with termite colonies by exploring treatments for the infected areas. If you suspect your property has termites, call us at 519-741-2312.

On this page:

  1. Bylaw
  2. About termites
  3. Identifying live termites
  4. Termite habitats
  5. Identifying damage
  6. Inspect your home
  7. Clean up your property
  8. Borate treatment
  9. Nematodes


Our termite bylaw covers:

  • the duties of the property owner
  • potential orders
  • remedial action
  • powers of entry and inspection powers
  • offences and penalties

Read the termite prevention and control bylaw to learn more.

About termites

Ontario is home to eastern subterranean termites. These termites:

  • live underground in large colonies
  • feed on available wood
  • prefer damp conditions
  • build shelter tubes to travel above ground to forage up trees or into homes

Before termites get into your home, they must first forage through your yard. Because of this, it’s important to eliminate termite habitats in your yard.

Identifying live termites

Termites are small insects, the size of a grain of rice. Workers are creamy white in colour, while soldiers have an orange head and long mandibles. Unlike maggots, termites have six legs and look like white ants but without a constricted “waist”.

Photo of a termite on dirt

Termite habitats

Stumps, dead trees, wood retaining walls, landscape ties and wood chip mulch provide sheltered conditions which are ideal for termites feeding and nesting. These types of wood are the greatest liabilities to residents and should be removed.

Subterranean termites tend to favour softwoods (pine or spruce) and faster growing hardwoods (aspen). However, they feed on every type of wood. Termites only feed on dead wood and will not attack the sapwood of live trees.

This species of termites will not be found in daylight and will quickly hide when uncovered. They will remain within their food sources, or underground, and will go as far as to build mud tube shelters to avoid being exposed.

Termites may also penetrate building materials like rigid polystyrene insulation boards, plaster, soft plastics and underground cables, even though they do not feed on these materials.

Termites can enter a structure by tunnelling through wood, by building shelter tubes, or by entering cracks in foundations.

Identifying damage

Check for live termites or new shelter tubes to identify termite damage.

Inspect your home

From April through November, you can inspect your yard and inside your house:

  • lift any moveable wood in contact with soil such as firewood, lumber, or barrels and examine the wood/soil interface for termites or their tunnels.
  • examine stumps by prying off the bark or chopping into them.
  • carefully examine crevices in the bark of large trees for shelter tubes.
  • examine compost bins, garages, sheds, crawl spaces, under porches and decks, and exposed foundation walls.

Check the house starting in the basement using a flashlight and flat-edge screwdriver. If you find shelter tubes, check along their full length. If the ends of shelter tubes are still wet, this means they were recently built, and still active. If the shelter tubes show no cracks or damage, this also means that they may still be active.

Clean up your property

Minimize the risk of hosting termites by working through these tasks:

  • elevate a shed or doghouse on a concrete pad
  • stack firewood and lumber off the ground on a metal rack, concrete pad or patio stones in the sun away from the house
  • remove pressure-treated edging boards, retaining walls, or railway ties and dispose
  • live trees are usually not infested, but dead trees or a heavily infested live tree should be cut down, the stump excavated or chipped, and the chippings disposed
  • wood chip mulches offer excellent food source for termites and should not be used
  • mulch sources that don't provide a food source for the termites with 100% bar mulch, cocoa shell mulch, pine bark nuggets, rubberific mulch, peat moss or coffee bean husk

To prevent the further spread of termites, please transport any material and soil suspect of termites from a property within the ‘red zone’ to the Region of Waterloo landfill and identify as possible termite material to regional staff.

Borate treatment

Wood that is treated naturally deters termites from entering and damaging new or existing wood.

Here's how to treat different wood structures:

  • wood fence posts: treat them with borate rods. 
  • existing woodsheds in good condition: spray them with a topical borate treatment


To reduce colonies and limit the impact of long-term damage and further forging into private property, apply entomopathogenic nematodes every May and September to the entire property (purchased at garden centres or hire a lawn care company).

For the nematodes to survive and penetrate the surface they need to be applied during or shortly after rainy conditions. If this is not possible the nematodes need to be watered in using garden hoses or irrigation systems.