Amazon Pest Control

Termites


Charateristics

Termites are small to medium sized insects ranging form 3-20 millimetres in body length. These insects are not often seen although evidence of their presence is observable in the large mounds they construct or the damage they do to wood products and structures. Termites can be distinguished by the following features:

  1. Pale, elongate body
  2. 2 pairs of membranous wings of equal length. Wings are present in reproductive castes only and shed after mating
  3. Mandibulate (chewing) mouthparts
  4. Antennae about the same length as the head

Termites are social insects and live in colonies consisting of a queen, sterile workers and soldiers and winged reproductive males and females known as alates. Termites are often known as 'white ants' however these insects are very different from those in the order Hymenoptera to which ants belong.

Coptotermes species are widely distributed across Australian and are most easily recognised by the milky substance that the soldiers produce when disturbed. All Coptotermes species form large colonies which likely contain millions of individuals. Colonies may be found in nests under the ground, in tree stumps, in hollow trees, in living trees or in conical mounds above the ground. All Coptotermes species are wood feeders and some are known to cause severe damage to living trees and other wood including that utilised by humans. Coptotermes acinaciformis is found in all states in Australia but only builds mound nests in the northern and south-west areas of its range.

Life Cycle - Termite colonies produce a reproductive caste when they have reached a certain size. These individuals consist of male and female termites that on warm humid nights usually fly away from the nest to mate and begin new colonies. After mating, individual pairs of termites build a new shelter to house a small number of eggs which will develop into the first workers and soldiers of the new colony. When this first brood is able to begin enlarging the new nest and feeding the queen she will begin to lay eggs almost continually rapidly increasing numbers in the colony. The nymphs of termites resemble adults. A colony of termites may consist of over a million individuals.

Feeding - Termites feed on a wide variety of plant material, which may include wood, bark, leaves, grasses, fungi, humus or the droppings of herbivores. Some species forage on the surface at night collecting grasses which they take back to be stored in the nest. Others more commonly avoid all light and build protective tunnels to travel between the nest and their food source.

Habitat - Termites are found throughout Australia and are usually detected in natural habitats by their conspicuous earthen mounds, which may be as high as 3 or 4 metres in some areas depending on the species. Some termites build smaller earthen nests in trees while others construct a complex network of subterranean tunnels connecting larger galleries.

Treatment Methods

A termite solution varies depending on the construction of the building. Every termite treatment method has limitations which can affect the success of the treatment. Treatment methods can consist of your traditional chemical barrier which involves applying a termiticide to the accessible under floor area of a dwelling and the accessible external perimeter as per Australian standards 3660.1&2. Possible limitations that could affect the above method of control are:

  1. Attached homes that have common walls and timbers.
  2. Semi-detached homes where one external wall is inaccessible.
  3. Homes that have internal concrete areas that cannot be properly drilled near the wall edges due to fixtures such kitchen benches and cupboards etc.
  4. Homes that have very low sub-floor clearance which inhibits the proper application of the termiticide to every area of the sub-floor perimeter and brick piers.
  5. The above list is by no means exhaustive but an insight into the more common
  6. limitations we come across when we are installing chemical barriers to dwellings.

The main objective in utilising a chemical barrier solution is to stop termites accessing the property from the soil. It is not to eliminate the termite colony. Which theoretically means that any timbers in contact with the soil away form the treated zone of the house can still be under threat of attack by termites. eg. timber fence, timber retaining walls, stored timber on the ground etc.

A chemical barrier once installed should remain active and provide the homeowner with protection from termites for approximately 5-10 years after installation. As with all homes whether treated for termites or not annual inspections should be carried out to ensure that the chemical barrier is holding and has not been breached.

A more recent approach to termite management has been the introduction of termite baiting systems. These systems are designed to eliminate the termite colony that is presently attacking the dwelling or structure.

The "Exterra Baiting System" involves placing bait boxes directly on to the timbers that have active termites as well as placing un-baited monitoring stations around the dwelling at approximately 5-6 meter intervals. The above ground stations placed in active areas are inspected every 3 weeks until colony elimination has taken place. The in-ground monitoring stations are inspected every 8 weeks until the expiry of 12 months from the date of installation.

The limitation of utilising a baiting system is that it is colony specific. In other words it will not stop another colony from attacking the property in the future. However if another colony is detected in the monitoring stations within the first 12 months the homeowner is not obliged to pay any extra cost because the initial licensing fee paid is for a 12 month period per site.

From our experience it is highly unlikely that another colony will pose any further threat but this may vary according to high risk areas where termite problems are more common. The benefits of using a baiting system are:

  1. Completely safe and non-toxic method of treatment.
  2. No drilling of tiles or concrete.
  3. Overcomes all the potential limitations that a traditional chemical barrier may have as outlined above.
  4. Solves the termite problem at the source (eliminates the colony).

More detailed information can be obtained at www.ensystex.com.au