Termites In Australia
Subterranean termites or “white-ants” are a highly destructive timber pest, causing major structural timber damage to domestic and commercial buildings in Australia.
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.
Other important factors include building designs, automatic watering systems, landscaping and maintenance that encourage termite activity and / or allow hidden termite entry and infestation into a building.
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 & tempest, combined.
Termites occur throughout most Australian states, with a high incidence of attack in virtually all urban areas.
Note: Severe termite damage to a building is not uncommon. To compound the problem, your Home or Building Insurance Policy will NOT cover the repair costs of any timber damage caused by termites.
Termites are small in size, about half the size of a match head, and soft bodied insects. They build a central colony nest from which they construct underground tunnels that can radiate 100 metres from the central colony nest in search of a timber (cellulose) food source.
Termites need to maintain a high level of humidity and temperature, 25 to 35C, in their central colony nest. They have a well ordered social system with amazing engineering capabilities and an acute survival instinct, they obtain moisture from the soil and moist decaying timber.
Termites eat through the centre of susceptible timbers leaving nothing but a thin veneer of timber and / or paint and pack mud into cracks and joints in the timber to prevent the loss of humidity and resultant dehydration.
The mutual feeding, constant grooming and close social habits of termites are used to advantage in baiting systems. Termite baits have a delayed lethal effect on termites which easily passes the bait on to other termites in the central colony nest as they groom and feed.
The Biology And Behaviour Of Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites or “white ants” are not ants at all!
Termites are in fact super specialised cockroaches with a similar 200 to 300 million year evolutionary history.
Within the termite colony there are members of different castes, each with a different role to perform and all interdependent upon each other for survival of the colony. These include the queen, king, the winged reproductive swarmers (young queens and kings), soldier and worker termites.
The queen termite is an egg laying machine, her body is enormous compared to her off-spring, she can live for more than 25 years and produce more than 2,000 eggs a day.
The king and queen live in a central chamber and are tendered by the workers.
The workers are by far the largest cast of the termite colony and the ones that do the damage, they are a creamy translucent colour, soft bodied and carry out all the work in the colony, including gathering food (timber and other cellulose), constructing tunnels, repairing and enlarging the colony nest, grooming each other and feeding soldiers, the king, queen and also caring for the young nymphs until mature.
Worker termites are 3mm to 4 mm long, have no wings, are sterile and blind, work 24 hours a day for several years life span in some species.
The soldier commonly have an orange coloured armoured head with mandibulate pinchers which are used to crush an attacker, such as ants, some have broad hard pointed snout which can eject a white sticky latex to ensnare their enemies.
The soldier termite is usually the first to be seen in large numbers when any active termite nests are opened, rushing out to guard the opening whilst worker termites repair the opening.
The swarmers (reproductives) are called ‘alates’ and are commonly deem when they swarm on hot humid summer evening around dusk, they have eyes, are poor fliers but are swept along by the wind, they land drop their wings, find a mate to become king and queen of a new termite colony.
The swarmers are emitted in their thousands when a mature termite colony is large and well established. They land, shed their wings and attract a mate by a pheromone chemical signal. If you find swarming termites, it is a sure DANGER sign that a large termite colony nest is close by. Contact us immediately to asses the situation.
Termite Monitoring and Baiting System
A Termite Monitoring and Baiting System is designed to eliminate termite colonies, the system relies on establishing termite feeding points within the property and its surrounding grounds.
The minimum number of Termite Traps needed for a full system shall be the perimeter of your house measurement divided by 3.
Example: If the perimeter measurement is 66 then the minimum number of stations installed will be 22.
These stations shall be placed at an average distance of 3 metre intervals but shall not normally exceed 5 metre intervals around the perimeter of the property (most pest controllers place them at 4 metre intervals). When your termite trap becomes infested with termites then Termite Bait containing a Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) can be added, re-inspect baited traps every 1-2 weeks and keep adding bait until you have the termite colony elimination. Once you have achieved termite colony elimination you can then clean out the trap and install new timber inserts and commence inspecting every 6-8 weeks again.
A Termite Baiting System is a Monitoring and Baiting System designed to concentrate termite feeding in specific locations. Once termites start feeding in the installed Termite Trap the Termite Bait containing the active ingredient, an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) can be added. The Termite Bait has been shown to prevent termites from moulting. This results in their death and the eventual elimination of the colony whilst minimising the use of chemicals in the environment.
1.1 When feeding ceases and the termite colony has been eliminated, clean out the station and install new timber inserts and continue to inspect them again on a regular basis.
2.1 When successful Termite Baiting Systems eliminates the use of large volumes of the long lasting soil chemicals traditionally used to form a soil barrier around a property. Soil barriers are only intended to impede concealed termite entry into a building, consequently these barriers need to be complete and continuous. It is usually difficult to achieve these criteria with existing building structures. However, even if a complete and continuous barrier is achieved, termites can still bridge (cross) the barrier.
2.2 Baiting offers you an environmentally responsible alternative for termite management.
Important Termite Baiting System Limitations
3.1 Like all termite management systems, the Termite Baiting System is NOT a guaranteed method of termite control. The Australian Standard,
AS 3660.2-2000 Termite Management – In and Around Existing Buildings and Structures provides details for minimising the risks to buildings from termite attack, and methods of treatment to control termite infestations. It also advises that termite attack cannot be prevented completely and regular inspections are required. The termites, if found can then be eliminated.
3.2 Whilst colony elimination may be confirmed in as little as a few months after the installation and commencement of the Termite Baiting System; it may take longer and up to six or nine months. In some cases it may take more to eliminate the colony. Factors that influence the time to achieve colony elimination beyond the estimates indicated above include:
- Where a chemical barrier treatment has been provided previously. In this case termite feeding may be delayed significantly due to the effects of the chemical in the soil.
- The species of termite involved.
- The size and number of the termite colonies.
- The prevailing climatic conditions.
- The distance between your property and the termite nest.
- The termites’ feeding patterns.
- The availability of alternative feeding sources.
- Whether or not the termites are disturbed.
3.3 During the interval(s) between installation of the Termite Traps and anticipated elimination of existing termite colonies, termite feeding within the structures, possibly involving additional structural damage, may occur and should be expected.
3.4 Following successful colony elimination your property still remains susceptible to future attack. Consequently, as with all termite management options, ongoing monitoring and inspection of the property is essential.
What you must do regarding Termite Conducive Conditions
4.1 Minimise the presence of loose timber, wood, trash, lumber, areas of direct wood to soil contact, and water pools/puddles in any underfloor areas.
4.2 Fix faulty plumbing, leaks, dampness caused by poor drainage, condensation or leaks from the roof or other areas into, onto or around the area(s) Baited.
4.3 Large plants should be cleared away from the structure, leaving a clearance of about 300mm. Alternatively root barriers may be installed 300mm out from the foundation. (Climbing plants and/or thick vegetation growing against the side of your property provide termites with a well concealed entry point. In addition, the roots of some plants can grow into the foundations of a structure. These roots can later be excavated by termites and used as a way to enter the structure.)
4.4 Dead trees and/or stumps are favoured nesting sites for subterranean termites, and should be removed or treated as they pose an unnecessary risk to your structure.
4.5 Substandard ventilation in the subfloor areas of structures results in high humidity. Subfloor ventilation should be increased to the equivalent of 7,300 mm² per lineal metre or make use of active subfloor ventilation systems.
4.6 Garden beds should be raked away from the structure so as to expose the weep holes and the edge of the concrete slab.
4.7 Untreated timber garden surrounds and/or retaining walls should be replaced with termite resistant materials.
Definition of Colony Elimination
It is crucial that termite colonies are not prematurely classified as having been eliminated. Failure to accurately determine colony elimination may result in termites reinfesting within a short period of time.
Colony elimination will only be confirmed when the following criteria have been achieved:
Termites feeding in your trap must have consumed at least 100gms or more of the IGR APVMA Registed termite bait.
5.1 The ratio of soldier caste termites to worker caste termites must vary from the normal ratios associated with a healthy termite colony to indicate the effects of the IGR.
5.2 A visible change in the colour of the termites must be observed to further indicate the effects of the IGR.
As termites constantly groom and feed each other, a valuable tool to help eliminate termite colonies is the installation and monitoring of a termite baiting systems around premises or where termite foraging is likely to occur.
Termite baits are designed to be non-repellant to the termites and have a unique delayed effect, time enough to be passed onto other termites in the colony, including the queen, with sufficient dosage leading to the elimination of the entire colony.
Installing a few termite traps in your garden, does not give you full termite protection in accordance with the AS 3660.2-2000.
We strongly recommend you have regular termite inspections carried out by a licenced Pest Controller
who will advise you on which Termite Management System would be best suited to your property.
Mark Gersbach LIC NO. PMT-0-13440
M: 0412 036 793 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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