||Subterranean termites or "white-ants" are a
highly destructive timber pest, causing major structural timber damage to
domestic and commercial buildings in NSW.
A major economic pest: Recent industry surveys
suggest about one third of all unprotected properties in NSW are subject
to attack by subterranean termites. Most of the latest technology for
termite control products comes from the USA where termite control is a
US$5 billion industry. Other major termite control markets include
Australia, Japan, South East Asia, China and the south of France.
Most homes are at risk in NSW in built-up urban
areas, especially if well established gum trees are nearby the building -
within a 100 metre radius.
The problem is getting worse: 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,
such as, hardwood timber mulch and railway sleepers on the ground.
Other important factors promoting termite colony
development include automatic watering systems, landscaping and
maintenance that encourage termite activity and inappropriate building
design that allow hidden termite entry into a building.
RISK ASSESSMENT *
* Based upon CSIRO data and APCA national
Termites live in the ground
and can eat your house down
Termites are known to destroy the wall and roofing timbers of a home
within 3 months of construction.
Termites cause more damage to homes in Australia than fire, floods,
storms and tempest, combined.
Termites occur throughout NSW, with a high incidence of attack in
virtually all urban areas.
Consumer Note: The standard Home and
Building Insurance Policy will NOT cover the repair costs of termite
infested structural and decorative timbers.
Fascinating biology: Australian subterranean termites
evolved more than 250 million year ago. Meaning they inhabited Australia
long before flowering plants. Their survival success depends on living in
a protective underground environment. In some species, their colony nest
has a hardened shell, exposed above ground level. In most destructive
species in NSW their nest is totally out of sight, below ground level.
worker termites build mud-tubes over hard objects. The tubes or
"galleries" are made up of partly digested timber and mud excrete, and is
moist if currently in active use. The termites keep it's colony nest and
galleries at 25 to 35oC with high humidity. If they are exposed to light or
open air they will desiccate (dehydrate) and die. They live in constant
darkness, excepting for the annual summer swarms of the winged
million termites in the nest: In some destructive species, a
termite colony nest may contain more than a million termites, consisting
of a queen, king, young immature nymphs, workers, soldiers and winged
reproductives (called alates). They are delicate, soft bodied and small in
stature, about half the size of match-head. But they are also highly
efficient timber recyclers, and often described as Mother nature's best
worker termites are blind and forage in a largely random
criss-cross fashion looking for new timber food sources. However, they may
encounter and follow moisture zones and trail along solid objects, such
as, the concrete slab edge of your home. The soldiers accompany the
workers in their constant search for new timber food sources. If you find
termites active in timber framing, it is the soldiers that rush out to
defend the workers.
Experience counts: It takes many years of termite
control field-work experience to get a proper understanding of the habits
of the destructive termite species habits and their likely foraging areas
in a variety of building types and environmental circumstances.
||Look who's coming to dinner
... and whose home on the
Picture on your left shows a Fumapest termite
inspector examining a large subsidiary nest, termites built inside
the dining room wall cavity of a home.
Termites often build such above-ground nests provided there is a reliable moisture
source, such as, from faulty plumbing, leaking pipes, shower recess, guttering,
broken roof tiles and the like.
Look for tell-tale
Picture on left shows a mud-shelter
tube that subterranean termites have built over a brick foundation wall to
the flooring timbers in a sub-floor of a home.
Termites are very secretive and will often enter
a building through areas inaccessible to inspection, such as, via on-ground
patios, cracks or expansion joints or around concrete slab flooring, particularly
if the slab edge is obscured by pathways or garden beds.
Tiny termite entry points around your home?
Termites can pass through a 2 mm crack in concrete slab
on-gound flooring and will readily eat through the rubber compound
between the adjoining concrete slabs to gain access. Termites can
then travel under parquetry and other floor tiles to get to the wall
and roofing framing timbers.