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TERMITES


A survey which was carried out in the mid 80’s that included thousands of houses in New South Wales establishes that one in every five houses had active termites. This statistic has more than likely increased by now due to many factors that favour the termite’s reproduction and survival rate.

It is vital that the termite species is identified properly as some species require no action. Unfortunately due to lack of experience with technicians in the pest control industry client confidence is destroyed as termite control is expensive, however not always necessary.
DON'T BUY TERMITES, PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT!
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make, so why would you spend all that money and run the risk of buying something about to be attacked or already riddled with termites?

Did you know that even if you have a building inspection prior to purchase, it DOESN'T cover timber pests? Only a qualified inspector can carry out a pre-purchase timber pest inspection to report on termite & borer activity as well as fungal decay and conditions conducive to future termite infestations.

One of the best ways to gain peace of mind about the condition of your home is to have regular termite inspections.

The Australian standard recommends a Visual Termite Inspection and Report (VTIR) should be performed at least once every 12 months and more often if conditions conducive to termite attack are present.

Contact us now and become satisfied knowing that your home is not infested with termites.
CLASSIFICATION
Termites are mostly pale brown to white, have no constriction between thorax and abdomen and have beaded antennae. Reproductive forms have two pairs of equal wings and one pair of compound eyes. Workers and soldiers are blind, sexless and wingless and have thin cuticles that are sensitive to desiccation in dry or exposed environments.

Ants on the other hand vary from brown to black, depending on the species, and have an obvious constriction between thorax and abdomen. Antennae are variable, but often characteristically elbowed. They have two pairs of wings, unequal fore and hind wings and one pair of compound eyes. Workers, soldiers and sexual form ants have cuticles that are not sensitive to desiccation, so they can exist outside the more humid environment of their colony.

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BEHAVIOUR AND CLASS
Termites live in colonies, which are assemblages of different individuals with definite functions or tasks. The size of the colony varies from a few hundred, to hundreds of thousands to even millions. The colony takes various form, as some species build mounds, some nest underground and some live in the small colonies in the wood of trees. There are five forms: Top
BIOLOGY
Termites have a gradual metamorphosis. The development stages are egg, nymph and adult. The eggs hatch into instant nymphs, which are fed by the workers. By moulting several times the young nymphs separate into workers, soldiers and alates (winged termites).

The development period may take 2-4 months or several months depending on food availability, temperature and the strength of the colony. The winged form (alates) leave the colony during the colonizing flight as they will become future queens and kings. When are pare of alates find a suitable environment to settle down such as in decay wood or in soil they make a small chamber in which they mate.

At this stage the responsibility of the young falls upon the king and queen however this later
changes as the colony increases in size and the workers acquire the responsibility to fend for the young. A colony usually requires a period of 2-5 years to gain enough momentum and strength to
do serious damage to a structure such as a house.

This is a consequence of a well established and organised colony not due to the founding pair of termites. At first, egg production of the founding pair is small maybe a batch of
10-20 but after some years the same queen will be able to lay over 1000 eggs per day!

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SOCIAL GROUP
The Queen – The main purpose of the queen is reproduction. However during the main development period of the colony she, together with the king, cares for her young until the workers are numerous enough to care for the nursery duties. The first form queen is usually long lived 10-50 years, and is fertilized by the king at intervals during this time.

The King – The original king along with the queen cares for the young during the early life of the colony. He fertilises the queen from time to time and like the queen, long lived. It is likely that supplementary kings can be formed from the development reproductives in some species.

Workers – These usually represent the greatest number of individuals in a colony. They do all the work of the colony; feed the young repair damage, tending and feeding the queen. They are not involved in reproduction and have no compound eyes. Workers bodies are mostly white; basically see through due to their thin cuticles (outer skin). Due to this reason they are very vulnerable to extreme chances in environment conditions such as humidity and temperature, therefore they always travel in tunnels both below and above surface level.

Soldiers – Soldiers are usually darker in colour and they have larger and darker heads then the workers. Although the soldiers are basically males and females, their reproductive organs have not developed, nor are their sexual characteristics apparent. A Soldier’s main function is to defend the colony against intrudes such as ants.

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FOOD
Most termite species are grass and debris feeders and these are usually not a threat to buildings. Termites of economic importance to wooden buildings eat cellulose, starch and sugars (carbohydrates), which they obtain from wood. Sapwood is proffered by termites rather than heartwood, because it has a better food value and is less durable then heartwood.

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MOISTURE AND TEMPERATURE
Termites have thin cuticles and are therefore suspected to desiccation. They spend most of their lives in high humidity and temperature conditions within their workings and colony. Subterranean termites obtain their moisture mostly from soil, and in this way maintain the colonies humidity. Subterranean termites can survive without soil contact but they must have an assured source of moisture.

When termites occur on top of buildings with no ground contact, the source of water is usually a plumbing leak or faulty roof. Dry wood termites do not have a large water requirement and attack timbers in buildings that are at equilibrium moisture content. Ventilation of sub floor areas of buildings and dwellings is vital to reduce moisture levels to stop the growth of wood decay fungi (also a source of food for termites).

Click here for more information on sub-floor ventilation.

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POTENTIAL TERMITE DAMAGE



 





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Information Source:
Gerozisis, John, and Phillip Hadlington. Urban Pest Management in Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2001. N. pag. Print.