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Super Home Center Article

Subterranean Termites in Australia

by Bruce Gow - Termite / White Ant Specialist
Best Pest Control - Sydney, Australia

No property is safe from termites! Termites are the cause of the greatest economic losses of timber in structures in Australia. Independent data complied by State Forests shows 1 in every 5 is attacked by termites at some stage in its life, however CSIRO data indicates that it could be as high as 1 in 3.

Australia’s subterranean termite species (white ant) are the most destructive termites in the world. In fact it can take "as little as 3 months for a termite colony to severely damage almost all the timber in a home."

The most destructive species live in large underground nests containing several million timber destroying insects. The problem arises when a nest matures near your home. Your home provides natural shelter and a food source for the termites. The gallery system of a single colony may exploit food sources over as much as one hectare (2.5 acres), with individual galleries extending up to 50 metres (165 feet) to enter your home, where there is a smorgasbord of timber to feast upon. Even concrete slabs do not act as a barrier; they can penetrate through cracks in the slab to gain access to your home. They even build mud tubes to gain access to above ground timbers. In rare cases termites may create their nest in the cavity wall of the property without making ground contact. In these cases it may be impossible to determine their presence until extensive timber damage occurs. Exterra termite baiting system provides an answer to this problem by eradicating the colony causing the damage.

Termite damage:

Once in contact with the timber they excavate it, often leaving only a thin veneer on the outside. If left undiscovered the economic species can cause many thousands of dollars damage and cost two to five thousand dollars (or more) to treat. Exterra baits cost less than termite barriers to install and are non-toxic, leaving our eco-system safe from hundreds of litres of toxic termiticides.

Subterranean termite ecology:

These termites are social insects usually living in underground nests. Nests may be in trees or in rare instances they may be in above ground areas within the property. They tunnel underground to enter the building and then remain hidden within the timber making it very difficult to locate them. Where timbers are concealed, as in most modern homes, it makes it even more difficult to locate their presence, especially if gardens have been built up around the home and termite barriers are either not in place or poorly maintained. Termite baiting systems (we obviously recommend Exterra because it performs better) -are intended to kill off the nests attacking the property. Termites form nests in all sorts of locations and they are usually not visible. There may be more than one nest on a property, so termite baits are intended to destroy colonies where-ever they are located…even in your neighbours’. The diet of termites in the natural environment is the various hardwood and softwood species growing through Australia. These same timbers are in buildings. Worker termites move out from their underground nest into surrounding areas where they obtain food and return to nurture the other casts of termites within the nest. Termites are extremely sensitive to temperature, humidity and light and hence cannot move over ground like most insects. They travel in mud encrusted tunnels to the source of food. Detection of termites is usually by locating these mud tunnels rising from the ground into the affected structure. This takes an expert eye and we recommend Termatrac microwave tracking combined with Exterra non-toxic termite baits for optimum control and inspection of termites in Australia.

Termite barriers protect a building by forcing termites to show themselves. Termites can build mud tunnels around termite barriers to reach the timber above. The presence of termite tracks or leads does not necessarily mean that termites have entered the timber. A clear view of walls and piers and easy access to the sub-floor means that detection should be fairly easy. However many styles of construction do not lend themselves to ready detection of termites. The design of some properties is such that they make the detection by a pest inspector difficult, if not impossible. Best Pest Control has made termite inspections and reports more accurate and efficient by using Termatrac microwave tracking.

The tapping and probing of walls and internal timbers is an adjunct or additional means of detection of termites but is not as reliable as locating tracks. The use of a moisture meter is a useful aid for determining the presence of termites concealed behind thin wall panels, but it only detects high levels of activity. Older damage that has dried out will not be recorded. It may also provide false readings. Termite tracks may be present in the ceiling space however some roofs of a low pitch and with the presence of sisalation, insulation, air conditioning ductwork and hot water services may prevent a full inspection of the timbers in these areas. Therefore since foolproof and absolute certain detection is only possible using Termatrac and Exterra, why would you use any other systems for protecting timbers from termite attack?

If you would like more information about termites, visit
Bruce Gow
Director 0417 251 911
Best Pest Control
ABN 83 052 957 123 (NSW) Pty Ltd
Termite (White Ant) Specialists

This article submitted by:
Bruce Gow -
Best Pest Control
34 Fourth Avenue  Blacktown NS
Sydney Australia 2153

San Diego CA Pest & Termite Control Contractors

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