ALL ABOUT TERMITES
Termites are a destructive pest, so it's important to have regular and thorough inspections to detect the early signs of termite activity and infestation. Statistically, up to 1 in 3 Australian homes will suffer some form of termite attack, with the damage equating to around $5 billion worth of property damage every year. And the risk is heightened when your home is located in the north/north east of Australia. Termites love living in Queensland too.
Termites can cause major structural and economic damage to homes and commercial buildings by eating the inside of the structure, leaving only a thin shell for protection from the outside environment But they don't just eat away at structural timbers, they can also feast on furniture, paper products, fabrics, clothing, footwear and even non-cellulose materials like soft plastics, building sealants and rigid foam insulation. Severe termite damage to Australian homes is on the increase since the removal in 1995 of the long lasting soil barrier chemicals; the more common use of softwood building and other landscaping timbers that termites find irresistible, like timber mulch and railway sleepers on the ground.
They aren't always easy to spot either, and unfortunately a lot of their activity goes undetected by most of us, so regular termite and pest inspections by a trained professional can reduce the risks to structural damage. If you have termites attacking your property you are most likely to see the termite damage before seeing any termites.
Because they feel invisible to our untrained eye, and we know the damage they can cause, termites give us cause to worry. It’s best to arrange a professional to do a regular termite inspection, because they know the warning signs of what to watch for. Not only will they inspect for active termites, but they will observe and advise on any risk factors.
Another problem with these pests is that each species of termites may require different termite extermination methods. To protect yourself, your family, and your property from these silent destroyers, you have to learn the different species and how to get rid of them.
There are over 300 species of termites in Australia, but only a handful cause problems. Unless you live in Tasmania, you will be at some level of risk for termite activity as this map from a termite survey and hazard mapping report by LJ Cookson and AC Trajstman for the CSIRO shows.
Subterranean termites (also called white ants) cause most of the damage around Australia. They feed off cellulose-containing materials like timber (& furniture, paper products, fabrics, clothing, footwear and even non-cellulose materials like soft plastics, building sealants and rigid foam insulation). They can be confused for black ants as they are similar in size, however unlike black ants, they are pale in colour (hence the name white ants). Fun fact – termites are more closely related to cockroaches than ants, another really good reason to get rid of them.
Termites with wings (called alates) can also be confused for moths. These termites fly out from the colony to look for new environments to reproduce and create new colonies. Let’s make sure they don’t use your home to create these colonies.
Termites work hard in the ecosystem and are a great asset as they recycle through dead and rotten timber and other plant matter. Not so good for our homes though. And sometimes we make it easier for them with the use of timber structures like decks, posts, piers and fencing. Any time timber comes in contact with the ground we create a little pathway from ground to home for the termites. Check out what you can do to reduce the risks.
Termites have a soft outer body and mainly spend their time in and under ground, keeping their bodies damp, which also makes it difficult to notice their activity. They live in connected networks of thousands, with a queen, workers and their army of soldiers. The small size of termites in connected communities makes our buildings vulnerable, so we need to ensure the barriers we create and treatments we use successfully prevent home damage by termites.
In late spring & summer flying termites are seen regularly, these can be mistaken for ants, the main difference between a flying termite and flying ant is the flying termite has 4 wings which are all the same size, a flying ant has 4 wings 2 small and 2 large. Termites have two body parts, a head and body, ants have three body parts. And ants don’t eat your house down either.