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Termites

types, facts & how to identify them.

TERMITES

Subterranean termites are a similar size to a black ant 
except they are pale in color.

That's why termites are often called "white ants".

The worker termites have a pale color and their body has two sections. Ants have three sections to their body.  The soldier termites  are a bit darker or dark brown.

Like ants, termites have a caste system with a devoted soldier caste for defending the nest. They have big heads and mouth parts suited to this task. Some termite species also have chemical defenses

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TERMITES AROUND OUR HOME

There's one common nutrient all termites look for: ‘cellulose’.

Any timber which shows evidence of rot, fungal decay, is soft or has increased moisture,  becomes a food source. 
This can include, tree stumps, retaining walls,  bottom of your timber fence, timber construction of your house (especially near wet areas like bathrooms, kitchen, laundry etc.), But also window frames, skirting, timber framework underneath your bathtub, etc.
You probably get he picture.
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Even treated timbers? Yes in time, due to exposure to UV, environmental condtions, the treatment in the timber will diminish, rot will take over, now it becomes food for termites.
 
Not all termites feed on wood, some eat grass, soil, or leaves while other species of termites purely survive on humus or manure..

WHAT DO TERMITES EAT

HOW TO IDENTIFY IF TERMITES ARE PRESENT

  1. Suddenly lots of winged insects in- or around your home
  2. Lots of wings on the ground of equal size
  3. Flying termites originating from a tree (stump) or the soil around your home.
  4. Cracked or bubbling paint on your plasterboard walls or frass (termite droppings).
  5. Cracked or bubbling paint in a window- or door frame, skirting etc.
  6. Wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  7. Any mud tubes on for example wooden beams, crawl spaces, any other structure in /under, between walls, floors or ceiling areas
  8. Contact a professional. We work with thermal imaging, moisture meters, listing devices, wall void cameras etc. 
  9. Do you want to risk your biggest investment for a few dollars ? 
Termites during renovation

Termites are blind

The majority of termites are born blind. The only termites that have vision are the reproductive termites. This includes the king and queen, as well as the alates (winged termites), who are sent out to find new food sources and start new colonies.

This means that 99.99% of termites are blind.

When the colony is under attack, they have an sophisticated alarm system. The soldiers bang their heads against the walls, when you disturb termites, you will hear this soft noise.  This is the warning signal for the rest of the colony. The vibrations make the other termites running away and bring other soldiers will come to support.


WE NEED TERMITES 

Together these millions of little creatures are able to achieve great things; building big structures above or below the surface, hollowing huge trees, moving vast amounts of soil, eating any (wooden) stored items in or around your house.
The total amount of termites have a significant influence on our enviroment by re-cycling cellulose containing materials.

Our planet needs termites. In their natural environment, termites re-cycle, returning nutrients of decaying wood into the soil.

Flying Termites in- or near your Home?

Do not think that flying termites are harmless.
Flying termites have the potential to establish a new colony; up to a million hungry, chewing, new-borns.
The ability to fly enables them to evade installed barriers and enter your home without your consent.

A part of the colony gets wings
Flying termites are the young reproductive termites; the future queens and kings of new colonies.
The queen is responsible for the producing new termites, in some cases up to 30.000 PER DAY!
Soldiers are present to protect the colony, while workers are responsible for the food supply.
Swarming, flying termites

With some variation, depending on species, flying termites usually swarm in spring and autumn when temperatures, rainfall, and humidity are ideal. They wait till it’s a bit overcast, windy and eventually emerge from a tree stump, nest, etc by the thousands.
Once they land, they will shed their wings and immediately start looking for food. If they were lucky enough to land near a wet area, a gutter full of debris, a rotting window frame or any other timbers with a high moisture content like softwood, timbers showing evidence of decay, these termites likely will have a smile on their face and start a new colony.

Flying termites vs flying ants

Like flying ants, termites have two pairs of wings. The main difference:

- Ants have two pair; one pair of wings is longer than the other pair
- Termites have two equal sized pairs of wings.

So, when you find wings, check the size!

Flying termites outside near your home
Termite swarms aren't supposed to fly so they won’t travel far unless they’re carried along by strong winds. The presence of swarming termites means there is a termite colony nearby, next to or some cases even underneath your home.

flying termites
What can you do?

Ensure your termite treatments and protection of you home are both effective and up-to-speed.
Make sure the termite barriers are in place and not breached. Barriers typically get breached during renovations or when structures like timber decking are being installed. In time, the barrier loses its effectiveness and usually needs to be replenished every three to five years.
The older your termite management system is, the more likely it could be breached and invaded by hungry worker termites.
There’s a strong correlation between moisture areas and termites. Especially living in a sub-tropical climate like Queensland, any moisture area created by leaking pipes underneath-, or around your home,  will create an area extremely susceptible to termite attack. Therefore having your home regularly checked for moisture/leaks is no luxury.
By the way, this is standard included in any thorough termite inspection.

Flying termites inside your home

When your home is invaded by flying termites, it’s likely they have been able to get established near or inside your home for a longer time. They may already be in the timber structure of your home. 
It’s usually a sign your home is under attack from a fully grown colony, capable of sending out sexually mature winged alates to create new colonies.

Ask the Green Termite
Termites during renovation

Termites & pheromones 

Smell is one of the termite’s well developed senses.  They use it to navigate and communicate with eachother.

Termites use pheromones, which secreted or excreted chemicals molucules trigger a response by other termites, to either talk to each other and/or tell each other where to go.

They scent trails with pheromones and which enables them to communicate relatively sophisticated information.

Besides pheromones, termites also use different colony odours on the cuticles of other termites and the level of carbon dioxide in the area.

Would make makes sense termites, during the millions of years they live on our planet, they have developed into little smelling champions to find food to feed their daily new-borns?!

I FOUND TERMITES DURING RENOVATIONS, WHAT TO DO?

The builder pulls down a wall,, the painter finds completely eaten out window frame or the plumber thinks there is something fishy going on behind the shower wall, possibly a termite nest..

You found live termites, what to do?

Even when it is enormously frustrating, call a professional.
Termite facts tell us, Ignoring termites in - or around your property is usually a one way road to disaster. In time, the termite damage repair bill is likely to increase significantly if not treated instantly.
Termites might temporarily disappear, they leave trails of pheromones, they will be back.

You found termites in one part of the house, are you sure they are only at that location? Remember, termites do not see rooms, once they are in the building, its one big timber framework. Spraying a bit of termite poison is not enough. There is a reason insurance companies do not provide termite insurance for termite damage.

Special note for investment property owners:

Generally, your tenants are not interested in termites resulting in tradies visiting your home etc. Usually when tenants notice something, often its forgotten the next minute.
This means: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A TERMITE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM INSTALLED

If you cannot see them, does not mean they are not there..Get any termite activity professionally treated - ASAP
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Termites during renovation

TERMITE DAMAGE


Termite-damaged wood is usually hollowed out along the grain,
showing dried mud near the feeding galleries.
Occasionally termites bore tiny holes through plasterboard or drywall.
Rippled or sunken traces on the plasterboard can be indicative of
termites tunneling underneath. Please do not disturb them.

Often times there will be no visible indication that the home is infested.
Termites eat timber from the inside-out and infestations can go undetected for years,
hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and usually in- and around wet areas.

Termite feeding and damage can progress undetected in timbers that are exposed because
the outer surface is usually left intact and not visible to the human eye. 

TERMITES VS ANTS


People often confuse winged termites with ants, which often swarm at the same time of year.
Termites have a straight antennae and two pair of wings of equal size.
Ants have two pairs of unequal size wings,
termites have two pairs of equal size wings.

Flying termites are attracted to light and are often seen around windows and doors.
Flying Termites emerge from tree stumps, woodpiles, and other locations. This does not necessarily mean that your house is infested.
But if flying termites are seen emerging from the base of a foundation wall or adjoining timber decking and patios, there's a good chance the house is infested also and treatment may be warranted.

TERMITES VS ANTS

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