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DO NOT DISTURB THEM!
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Pest control professionals estimate 1 out of 3 Australian homes will have some degree of infestation of termites. Sometimes called the ‘white ant,’ the termite is more closely related to the cockroach and loves moist timber found in your walls, ceiling and rafters. As most home insurance doesn't cover termite damage, you’ll be responsible for replacing all of the wood in the floor, walls and roof these destructive buggers weaken. Pest control of termites is best left to the professionals, but all responsible home owners should know about these destructive beasts.
The Life of a Termite
The termite has a complex colony life, much like the ant. At the centre of the nest is the queen, who can live twenty-five years and lay 2,000 eggs a day. She has a fertile king at her side and the two are waited on by the sterile and blind worker termites. These are the soft, white creatures you may see if you rip into a termite nest because they are responsible for damage to your home. The wood they eat is digested, regurgitated and then fed to the queen and king. There are also soldier termites that protect the nest from ants with their orange-coloured heads and pinchers.
Lastly, the winged termites you see swarming on a hot summer evening are called alates. They swarm to find a mate and start a new colony, often near or in your home! If you see a swarm, call for pest control immediately as your problems are bigger than you thought.
Sneaky White Ants
Termites can sneak into your home and devour timbers undetected. Part of their stealth revolves around their hatred of light and need for warmth and humidity. Worker termites will use mud to build enclosed tunnels along your basement walls to get to the good, moist timber in the comfort of darkness. They will also use the mud to pack into timbers and cracks to keep their colony a constant temperature of about 30C.
Termites to Be Reckoned With…
Out of 350 species in Australia, there are 30 kinds that indulge in timbers of your home. Below are the top 3 on the pest control professional’s most-wanted list:
Coptotermes acinaciformes is the most wide-spread pest throughout Australia. Found in living in dead trees and other wood sources, these nasty pests will tunnel as much as 100 m to dine on the wooden parts of your home.
Mastotermes darwiniensis--Even the scientist Charles Darwin was impressed with one of the largest and most destructive termites in the world. They're found mostly in tropical areas of Northern Australia.
The West Indian termite (Cryptotermes brevis) is unique because it can live in dryer conditions than most termites and can cause a lot of damage before it is detected.
Pest Control Prevention and Tips
Getting rid of termites is a job for the pest control professionals, but there are several things you can do to help ward off possible infestations. First, get rid of sources of moisture by fixing leaky pipes or installing a dehumidifier in a damp basement. Make sure outside water sources are directed away from your home with gutters or other drainage systems.
Next, don’t use wooden mulch chips or railway ties to landscape your lawn as new colonies are happy to feed on them whilst establishing their home.
Termites are a force to be reckoned with and can cause many thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home. If you find a colony of termites, leave their nest alone and call your pest control professional immediately. If disturbed, termites will relocate their home and may be almost impossible to find. Instead, allow your pest control professional to do the dirty work.