Termites have a very useful role within our environment, but when they invade and attack your home, they can become a hated enemy, a source of heartache and anxiety. Every problem has a solution, and there is no need for any job turning into a nightmare. There are however, certain practices in the pest control industry that should be adopted for all inspections and treatments, and some “dodgy” operators that should be avoided like the plague!
In Australia, one house in three at some stage will become affected by termites, which is more prevalent than damage caused by fire, storm and flood combined. This article will examine how to prevent termite attack, methods of inspection, protection, control and treatment.
Control of pest termites involves identifying the species, locating the nest and choosing the best eradication methods. A combination of doing regular, competent building inspections in termite-prone areas, using naturally resistant or treated timbers in buildings, and installing chemical and physical soil barriers around buildings is necessary to prevent further problems.
Houses nearby may often have termite nests nearby in trees, stumps and underground but these may not contain pest species. When they do, it should be the main focus of the termite control technician to locate and treat these areas before any protection is implemented. Too often the technician will “advise” the worried homeowner that termites may be “anywhere within 100 metres” of the property and its impossible to pinpoint exactly where they may be coming from.
In my opinion, if you don’t even try to find out the origin of the problem, your chances of gaining control of the problem dramatically drop. Even if the house is surrounded by dense bushland, I think it is definitely worth the time and expense of test drilling and treating ALL trees and stumps surrounding the property within a 50-100 metre radius, because that is where most infestations originate. If it means drilling 40-60 trees or investigating all surrounding homes, isn’t that a lot better than ignoring a possible source of infestation?
Most pest control companies will not go to this extra effort, and will try to convince the client that their baiting technique or soil barrier system is designed to protect your home in all circumstances. DON’T BELIEVE THEM! Better investigations and inspections lead to better termite protection and treatments. Its only common sense to take all effort to find out the origin of the attack.
Termite Inspection of Pest Species
Termite identification in Sydney Australia is highly specialized and pest controllers need to thoroughly inspect all areas of the property before any protection or treatment is begun. This may be conducted with the following equipment:
Flashlight with bright light
This is essential and krypton bulbs give the best light for torches generally available today. LED torches, headlamps and flashlights are the next generation inspection tools and should be used when they come onto the market.
A termite sounding donger
A fiberglass rod with a small plastic ball at the end. It is designed to run along skirting boards, higher placed timbers and other exposed timbers. When it runs across termite infested timber the tone changes, indicating hollowed out timber.
A Moisture Meter
It is designed to pick up high moisture content in walls and timbers. Termites bring up moisture from the soil and into the walls and timbers.
A Termatrac microwave tracking device Termatrac is a breakthrough development in the building inspection detection of termites, invented and developed in Australia using technology similar to radar, Termatrac is the exciting answer to detecting termites through timber, plaster board, brick or masonry with no interference to the building material or termite activity. With no drilling, tapping or prodding, Termatrac is the answer to termite detection without termite defection! With Termatrac, the pest professional enjoys the advantage of accurate detection and customer peace of mind.
Box cutter & Tape
If termite infested timber is located, we may cut it with a “Stanley” knife and expose the interior of timber, identifying the species of termites then seal it back up with tape so as not to disturb the termites.
This listens to termite sounds in the internal of the walls. However, if you tap the wall with your hand and put your ear up to the wall you can hear the soldier termites communicate by tapping their mandibles onto the timbers.
A home inspection for termites is known in Sydney Australia as a building inspection and includes a pest report and a building report. It involves a thorough visual inspection of the sub floor, roof void interior, exterior, and other areas of the property. An average house takes anywhere from one to two hours to complete. Cost varies from $160-$360 depending on the size of the house and access. This is including G.S.T. Tax
The report consists of multiple pages setting out the areas of concern and what to do to rectify problems. Digital photos are available upon request. Please remember a termite inspection report is designed to detect termites at an early stage as to reduce the amount of damage to your house. It does not stop termites. It is strongly recommended a termite inspection report is carried out at least once every twelve months and every three to six months for high risk areas.
Note: There is no household insurance that covers you for termite damage.
Termite Report Essentially a termite building inspection report is designed to:
1. Detect old damage and active termites.
2. Gives you the element of risk of infestation.
3. Gives you tips on reducing the chances of termite infestation.
4. Gives us enough information to accurately quote you on a termite treatment and to use the most appropriate method.
5. Identifies species of termites and (most importantly)
6. Educates you about termites.
Economically Important Pest Termites
Out of the 258 described termite species in Australia, only a few timber-damaging species are of concern to us. The five families that include the most common pest species in Australia are:
1. Mastotermitidae (1 pest species – Giant Termite, Mastrotermes darwinensis)
2. Kalotermitidae (several pest species of ‘dry-wood termites’, including the introduced Cryptotermes brevis)
3. Termopsidae (1 pest species – Dampwood termite, Porotermes adamsoni)
4. Rhinotermitidae (7 pest species, including Coptotermes acinaciformes)
5. Termitidae (5 pest species, including Nasutitermes walkeri)
The Giant Termite (Mastotermes darwinensis) has the greatest potential for destruction. However, it is limited to the tropical areas of northern Australia. It attacks any wood in contact with the ground including shrubs and trees, as well as paper, leather, clothing and other materials. It is a large-bodied primitive species that usually forms small colonies and has no true worker caste.
West Indian Dry-wood Termite
The introduced West Indian Dry-wood Termite (Cryptotermes brevis) is considered to be the world’s worst termite pest as it can eat even very small timber objects with few external signs of damage, can quickly take over from native termite species, can survive in quite dry conditions, and is easily transported. If it is found, it should be reported to the relevant government authority. It has been found in Brisbane and Sydney, as well as other areas on several occasions.
Most Destructive Species
However the most destructive species overall in Australia is Coptotermes acinaciformes. It is distributed throughout the continent and uses tree stumps, living trees, spaces under buildings and even walls as nesting sites. From the nest site, any wooden structure within a 100-metre radius can be attacked via underground tunnels. Although they usually need contact with soil, some nests of this termite species have even been found several floors up in city buildings or on ferries.
A common species that nests in Sydney’s coastal bushland is Nasutitermes walkeri. It forms distinctive round ball-shaped nests that are especially abundant in the years following major bushfires (as it mainly nests in stressed trees). It can also damage fences, poles and wood on the ground, but it rarely attacks buildings. This species has the largest soldiers (up to 6 mm long) of the Nasutitermes genus, with the characteristic nasute head.
High Risk Suburbs
Termite control in Sydney, Australia is particularly important in these high risk suburbs:
Dural Baulkham Hills
Forest Manly Epping
We service all these areas as well as Australian capital cities Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Darwin.
Remember, if you follow all of the advice in this article, selecting a qualified Termite Expert who is aware of, and implements appropriate termite inspections, protection and treatments will help prevent a problem job from turning into a nightmare.