Termites are pretty much a home owner’s worst nightmare; as these little critters can cause a huge amount of damage in a very short space of time.
There are over 300 different species of termites in Australia, but only a handful of these are of any concern to us.
Termites are insects belonging to the order Isoptera, and they are often called white ants. However, they are not ants and have a different body form than ants.
• Colour – wide range, dependent on species
• Obvious constriction between the thorax and abdomen
• Varied antennae, which appear elbow shaped
• Colour – pale brown to white
• No constriction between the thorax and abdomen
• Beaded antennae
To the right are two pictures, one of a termite and one of an ant. As you can see, they are quite different.
The Nasty Ones
Mastotermes darwiniensis is the most destructive species of termite in Australia.
However, it is only found in areas north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
Coptotermes are marginally less destructive but responsible for the most destruction; as they are commonly found throughout Australia – particularly in urban areas or where eucalyptus and other susceptible trees are prevalent.
Knowing a bit about the characteristics of termites will help you, as a homeowner, to understand the sort of damage they can cause.
Termites are like little engineers. They build a fortress of a nest so they can grow and protect their colony, and they connect the nest to the outside world with a widespread of tunnels. This enables them to go out and forage for food: which can include buildings over 50 meters away from their nest.
Termites are constantly looking for new food sources and will attack hard and softwoods. Many people think that because their home is built out of hardwood, they are safe from termite attack. I can assure you that this is not true.
Termites need to keep their nest, especially the nursery, at a temperature between 30o – 36oC, with a humidity of 100 per cent. The termites have a very thin cuticle (outer body layer) and this environment helps to stop desiccation of the cuticle. The high humidity also helps support the fungi that termites eat.
Within the colony, there are different castes, and each has a particular function. The castes are queen, king, developing nymph, soldier, worker, supplementary reproductive, alates and de-alates. Each one is very important to the survival of the colony – that being the primary focus of every termite in the colony.
In a well-established colony, the queen can lay over 1000 eggs per day. That’s a lot of little termites that need food, and unfortunately for us, that food may be coming from within our homes.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND TERMITES IN YOUR HOME.
The homeowner is usually the one to find the first signs of termites; and, in most cases, panics and tries to kill them with just about anything they can find within the kitchen cupboards.
DO NOT DO THIS!!
This is the worst thing that you can do. The best thing you can do is leave well alone. I repeat – LEAVE WELL ALONE. Then call your local termite specialist to have a look.
The reason we want to leave them is so that we can apply a product that will kill the colony. Not just the ones within the home, but also the ones outside back at the main colony.
By disturbing the termites, there is a good chance they will close off that area and sacrifice many thousands of individual termites within the colony; giving you the impression that they are gone. When in fact they have just moved on to another part of the home undetected.
If we are careful not to disturb them too much, we can apply dust to the termites located in the home. This dust takes a few days to kill the termites, which gives the termites enough time to travel back to the main colony.
Termites are social insects and groom one another as they travel back and forth to the main nest, and the dust is transferred between them. This spreads the dust throughout the colony and the colony is destroyed. This process can take about 3-4 weeks to be successful.
So, if dusting is done correctly, we achieve colony control; and colony control is the pest technician’s main objective.
GET A CHECK
Hopefully, your home isn’t being attacked by termites right now. But – better to make sure!
Call us to have a termite inspection done by our licensed pest control technician.
If you have any concerns about pests that may be attacking your home, you can call us here at Sunnystate anytime.