Termites can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your home. The best course of action is always preventative action but if you do discover you have termites it’s best to act quickly. Proper identification of the species of termite is essential to ensure you are using the most effective product. Some species of termites are highly destructive to buildings and you need to be rid of these pests before too much damage is done.
What Are Termites?
Termites are small in size. They’re a soft-bodied insect, pale brown to white in colour with a darker head. Termites, often called white ants, have the ability to completely destroy wall and roofing timbers of a home. Although found throughout mainland Australia, a higher rate of termite attacks occurs in urban areas.
Termites can cause more damage to homes in Australia than fire, floods or storms combined, and your Home and Building Insurance Policy will not cover repair costs to damage caused by termites.
Termite life cycle
The King and Queen termites are responsible for mating and egg-laying. Other termites feed and care for the Queen as she lays thousands of eggs per year. Worker termites also look after her eggs. They incubate the termite eggs for two weeks, which then hatch as Nymphs who are then fed regurgitated food and undergo a series of growth stages before assuming one of the following castes:
- Supplementary Reproductives
Do I Have Termites?
There are a few signs of termite activity that you need to be mindful of.
If you’re not sure of what you can see or you have some concerns, you should investigate further. And for peace of mind it would be best to engage a professional technician to assess your situation.
How do I tell if I have termites in my walls?
You can look for:
- Bubbling or cracked paint. Termites feed from the inside out and as they approach the wall surface the paint may bubble.
- You may see mud tubes along the outside of your property. Termites build these mud tubes to travel safely from one area to another.
- Hollow sound. If you knock on the area you think may have termites i.e. bubbling or cracked paint, you will hear a slight echo. Termites leave the outer structure intact but hollow out the inner structure.
Signs of termite infestation
Unfortunately, by the time you discover you have termites, your home will already have been damaged. The amount of destruction depends on how soon you discover the activity and how quickly you act. It’s important to be observant for any sort of pest activity on your property and in the case of termites, look for these following signs:
- These are little tunnels built by termites to carry food back to their colony
- These are empty spaces left in wood as the termites burrow their way through the structure.
- These look like grains of sawdust or sand. Look for mounds of droppings.
Winged termite swarms
- Similar to winged ants they will swarm towards a light source
Discarded swarmer wings
- Termite swarmers discard their wings. If you find a pile it could mean a termite colony is nearby.
How to kill termites
Termites need an entry point into the home, so prevention is one of the first steps. The most common deterrent is to install a barrier around the home, and this usually happens when the property is being built.
What chemical kills termites?
Two of the safer chemicals available are Termidor and Premise. Both products are water based and virtually have no smell. They’re also a low threat to humans and household pets.
It’s recommended to avoid repellence products as the termite can detect the chemical through smell and avoid it. The termite will move along the treated areas, searching for a gap to gain entry into the building.
By using odourless chemicals, such as Termidor and Premise termites enter straight through the chemical layer, transferring the treatment to every area they visit.
Pest control for termites
1. Termite baiting
Baiting systems use plastic bait stations which can be installed both in-ground and above-ground.
2. Liquid Pesticides
These are applied to the soil and are a specific termite poison formula.
3. Wood treatments
Building materials can be pre infused with a pesticide.
As with any chemical, it’s important to follow the relevant instructions not only to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment but also as a safeguard for you and your family. Once you have discovered termite activity, and successfully treated the current problem subsequent inspections are essential. You should schedule these for at least 3 to 6-month intervals where signs of termite activity have been previously located.
How Do I Prevent Termites?
- Install a barrier around the property
- Remove all wood, paper, firewood piles from around the home
- Regularly inspect decking, fencing and other timber areas
Can I get rid of termites naturally?
There are several products available online or over the counter which can assist in the elimination of termites. Boric acid, although technically not a natural remedy is low in toxicity. Available at your local hardware store it can be applied with a powder duster both indoors and out.
How to treat termites yourself
- Termites can’t exist in the sun. Clear away plants, grass and mulch to expose the colony to sunlight.
- Nematodes feed on termites. Nematodes are small parasitic worms available online or over the counter.
- Orange oil is a natural solution and can aid in the treatment and elimination of termites. It works best in well defined spaces so it’s crucial that you know where the source of your termite colony is located.
Call a professional!
If left untreated there’s a certain species of termite that can cause destruction of a building in a short amount of time. If you do observe termite activity in or around your home, it’s essential not to disturb them. Immediately call your expert termite control technician. They’ll assess your property and give you the best advice and a suitable, protective treatment plan.