ABN 47 091 891 253

14 Fearn Street

Toongabbie

N.S.W 2146

Australia

Office Phone: (02) 9631 3585

Jason’s Mobile: 0414 434 958

email: adaptablepc@ozemail.com.au

Information sheet on Termites

 

We are often asked by clients of ADAPTABLE Pest Control  – “Is our property safe from termites.”

The answer in part is - 

  • State Forests data shows that 1 in 5 homes in Australia are attacked to some degree in its life.
  • Australia’s termite species are some of the most destructive in the world.
  • They are the cause of the greatest economic losses of timber in service in Australia.

However, there are many modern and excellent ways to increase your chances of avoiding termite attack, & we encourage people to take the time to speak to us about very simple things they can do at little or no cost.

One of the best things is to know a little about termite and how they live. This sheet is aimed at that goal.

Even though the most destructive species live in large colonies often containing several million workers & soldiers, they are very good at staying out of sight. Also homeowners can inadvertently help them if not careful.

Subterranean termites live ‘below’ the ground but have the ability once tunnels are created to live above soil level. They must maintain a humidity and temperature level within specific parameters and to do this build ‘mud tubes’ called galleries, to travel and work within. These can often be seen in inspection zones if careful care is taken.

Termites will build single galleries – these ‘mud tubes’ – of over 50 meters to reach food sources. Unfortunately even concrete slabs do not always act as effective deterrents or barriers. They can penetrate through small cracks caused by shifting ground that cause breaks, or around poorly protected pipes to gain entry. They can also build access galleries up walls to gain entry through ‘weep’ holes in brickwork around the edge of slabs.

Once timber is found to eat termites devour almost the entire amount leaving only a thin veneer on the outside. If this timber is your home it provides a great shelter and a food source better than any large tree. In fact termites will eat any material containing cellulose, their principle food. This means materials such as furniture, printed material like paper and books, fabrics, footwear, packing cases, even garden tools. Termites can also damage non-cellulose materials including soft metals, inferior concrete and plastics such as polyethylene piping.

In rare cases following colonization flights they may create nests in a wall cavity without making ground contact. In these cases it may be almost impossible to determine their presence until extensive damage occurs revealing their nest. These occurrences are a real problem for both pest controllers as well as owners.

 

Because termites live in the dark - workers and soldiers are blind - and most termites have a white or light brown soft body – hence the term “White-ant”. It is important to know that they are however not ants.

The most destructive termite in the world is generally regarded as the Cryptotermes brevis the West Indian Dry wood termite. Because it needs much less moisture than most termites and lives in small colonies it can hide and be transported in even small pieces of timber. As a result it has been known to be imported and is a reportable pest. Cryptotermes brevis damage is difficult to detect with often no outward signs until the timber piece collapses.

The most destructive native termite in Australia is the giant termite Mastotermes darwinienis. It attacks any wood in contact with the soil including shrubs and trees. It will also eat leather, clothing, and many other articles. Fortunately for us in Sydney - it dwells north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

 

 

Neotermes insularis or the ‘Ring-ant termite’ works in the softer growth rings of trees and loves Eucalyptus. As it lives on the moisture traveling up the tree it does not need to get moisture from the ground and thus may not need to dwell in the soil. As this termite is found in trees in gardens or parks it is important to allay the fear of house holders as this termite seldom attacks other than very damp or decaying wood and seldom ‘dry wood’ such as we build homes from. The species Porotermes adamsoni lives in similar locations and can attack timber of homes if that timber is in contact with the soil directly and very moist. Treatment is simply to provide ventilation that makes timber dry and it will usually not continue its attack.

Heterotermes ferox attacks posts, poles, fences and deckings. It tries not to move to far from the nest and is not a major pest species causing mostly superficial damage.

The main enemy for buildings comes from the Coptotermes spp. of which there are several species. For example Coptotermes acinaciformis occurs all over Australia and thus despite not being as aggressive as it’s northern cousin is regarded as the most destructive species by nature of its wide range. It nests in a variety of places, including under patios, in walls as well as living trees and stumps. Its range from the nest can be 50 –100 meters, with nests of ½ to 1 million members. The Shedorinotermes spp ranks a close second to the Coptotermes in both its range & its attack of timbers in use. It is these two groups that most pest controllers work to control, & prevent.

So what can you the home owner or dweller do?

As prevention from attack is the best place to start lets look at this first.

  • If you have a dwelling constructed on a slab the Australian standards, AS 3660.2 requires an inspection zone of at least 75mm to be maintained around the slab edge. This means ensuring that pot plants bins, gardens and landscaping not are built such that it obscures this zone.
  • Avoid using bark gardens and untreated timbers up against the house to provide highways to your home.
  • If you have a sub floor it needs to be provided adequate ventilation to keep moisture levels down.
  • Watch out for drainage problems to avoid moisture and humidity that encourages termite activity. This would include checking water pipes as they age for damage, ensuring down pipes from gutters are maintained free of blockages, cracks or leaks.
  • Avoid using sub floors for storage of any items, and make sure they are particularly free of wood debris.
  • If you do observe any suspected termite activity particularly galleries do not disturb them so that they can be correctly identified and used as treatment opportunities. Call a reputable and licensed pest controller.
  • Regular inspections are also a very good way to ensure ongoing protection.
  • More costly but often worth the effort is preventative measures that have been designed commercially.

There are now very effective bait stations for monitoring activity as a warning system.

Physical barriers such as ground granite and or wire mesh alternatives.

There are also a variety of chemicals that can be applied as a barrier also.

Obviously if damage or termite activity is discovered it is VERY IMPORTANT that you get the correct identification and advice before you chose any action. It is our experience that many home owners have paid hard earned money for removal or treatment of species listed above that are not and never would have been a danger, with pest controllers of less reputable standing playing on peoples fears to carry out work that is not required.

Be assured that at ADAPTABLE Pest Control we are looking for longstanding customers who trust us, not someone that we can rip off once!