||Subterranean termites or "white-ants" are a
highly destructive timber pest, causing major structural timber damage
to domestic and commercial buildings in Victoria.
A major economic pest: Recent industry
surveys suggest about one third of all unprotected properties in
Victoria 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 Victoria 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.
DESTRUCTIVE TERMITE RISK ASSESSMENT *
* Based upon CSIRO data and APCA national survey
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 Victoria, 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 Victoria their nest is totally out of sight, below ground level.
The 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
A 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 builders.
The 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.
for tell-tale termite mud-tubes
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.