Termites are abundant throughout Sydney and especially the Northern Beaches and North Shore areas. Termites are the most important pest of timber in Australia, causing millions of dollars worth of damage annually in timber replacement and control procedures. One should never buy a home without having a Timber Pest Inspection first to be sure you are not buying a property full of termites.
Termites are often called white ants. This term should be avoided as termites are not a type of ant, their closest relative is in fact cockroaches. Ants are actually predatory of termites however i have seen them living together, such is the way of mother nature. Carpenter ants are often confused with termites as they can live in similar environments. Carpenter ants do not destroy sound timber but rather only excavate rotted wood. Carpenter ants are often located in window or door frames and are there due to moisture and fungal decay.
Termites differ from other wood borers in that they are social insects, living in a colony with various grades of organisation. The colony consists of the original pair of reproductives called the king and queen, and their offspring of reproductives, sterile workers and soldiers. After setting up the family the king and queen get down to the duty of reproduction. The workers care for the eggs, gather food,feed other termites and build the nest. The soldiers defend the colony from intruders such as ants, birds, people and anything else which may disturb the workings. They will appear in seconds from a disturbance and you can sometimes hear them running toward the opening. The reproductives either fly from the colony to set up new colonies or remain behind as supplimentry kings and queens. Termites are found throughout Australia, but are more abundant in the tropical and subtropical areas. The 3 basic termite groups are described below.
These termites live in mounds on the ground, in nests in or on trees, or in the ground itself. They may also have sub nests in your walls, cavity between levels, subfloors or roof voids. They travel from their nests to a food source through underground tunnels or over structures under the protection of mud tubes. Most economic termite problems are caused by Subterranean Termites.
Dampwood termites make their galleries and nests in rotten and damp wood. They are not major pests but may attack damp wood in a house. Decking timbers, fences, garden timbers and at times subfloor areas generally with high moisture readings and should be inspected regularily.
Drywood termites make their nests and galleries in dry, sound wood. They need no ground contact and obtain their moisture from the wood itself. They are mostly limited to the humid areas, north of the Tropic of Capricorn. They live in many small independent nests and are thus able to destroy furniture and small pieces of structural and joinery timbers. There are not many drywood species considered to be a major pest problem excepting the West Indian drywood termite, an introduced species which can be extremely destructive and has occured in Queensland and New Soutrh Wales. I am aware of 2 cases where they have been located in the Northern Beaches, a result of timber products being bought down from North Queensland and the termites then surviving the change in environment.
SIGNS OF TERMITE ATTACK !!
- Hollowed wood, with the outer shell in tact. Looks perfect but is hollow in the middle.
- Earth shelter tubes and mud packing in the subfloor and brick work.
- Flite tubes for the release of reproductives
- Flite cuts in trees.
- Swarms of alates flying from the colony.
- Noises especially at night from walls.
- Vision of nests / mounds on ground or trees.