Termites: What are they, how they enter your home.
Termites are an ancient order of insects whose origins date back more than 100 million years to the Cretaceous period. Although they are commonly called ‘white ants’, the resemblance to ants is superficial and they are more closely related to cockroaches and in fact have been recently included into the cockroach order Blattodea.
Termites can be grouped into three basic categories:
- Dampwood, these termites generally live in damp rotting logs or rot pockets in dead or living trees.
- Drywood, these termites obtain water from the wood in which they live and have no contact with the soil, or with any other source of moisture.
- Subterranean, these termites are generally ground-dwelling or require contact with the soil or some constant source of moisture and are the main threat posed to timber in the built environment, (timber-in-service).
What type of damage can they cause to your home
No matter where you are located in Australia, Subterranean Termites are present in your area. Subterranean termites are responsible for more economic loss each year than all natural disasters combined. There are more than 350 species of termites which have been recorded in this country, about 25 of which achieve economic importance as pests of timber in service.
Where do they live?
Subterranean termites live in colonies, numbering from a few hundred to millions. In each colony there is a division of labour, with several distinct castes, each specailising in particular duty. The worker termites are responsible for the damage to timber caused in their search for food, which consist mainly of cellulose, sugars and starch present in the timber. Subterranean termites generally nest underground in the soil, build earthen mounds, or nest in the root crowns of trunks or living and dead trees. Having to maintain contact with soil or a reliable water source to obtain sufficient moisture to survive, subterranean termites construct protective mud shelter tubes from their nest to their food source- living trees, seasoned timbers, books, furniture, etc. Consuming the wood from inside out, usually by the time the termites work is visible, the timber is virtually eaten away.
How subterranean termites can enter your home.
- Constructing mud tubes over concrete piers
- Constructing tunnels up the centre of wood stumps
- Constructing mud tubes from the soil to the flooring, often within cavity walls
- Through hair line cracks which appear in concrete slabs around plumbing and electrical conduits
- Through service pipes such as telephone, plumbing and electrical
- Bridging by way of vegetation in contact with the building, through the soil abutting the base of the building, working their way through mortar or timber in soil contact
- Through colonsing flights, reproductive termites may form nests within or in close proximity to the building
If you wish further information or advice regarding termites or having a timber pest inspection, please contact your local Amalgamated Pest Control branch.