Homes are built to outlive generations. They should be a safe haven for all the inhabitants and provide relief from all the dangers outside. When it comes to our home we like to have a solid foundation that never shudders even in the harshest of conditions. The roof should be strong enough to withstand every storm and hail that the weather may send. Our walls keep all the different harmful substances away from us. On our part, we diligently ensure that no foreign factor harms the outside of these various elements of our home. However, we can lose the battle when the fight ensues from within the walls of our home.
Introduction to the problem
One of the major reasons for the damage of many homes and their subsequent destruction is termite infestation. These little insects, also known as ‘white ants’ have the ability to gnaw down the core of a building until nothing but the flimsy exteriors remains. They can annihilate the existence of the strongest of concrete foundations. Some major characteristics of termites are:
- They look like ants but have only two sections in their body. Some of them have wings and are called allates.
- Australia has different types of termites that infest homes here. Subterranean termites are just one variety among the 300 odd varieties that exist here and among them only a few are actually harmful to properties.
- In Australia, the most difficult and harmful termite species is the Coptotermes.
- Termites eat through treated logs and wood used in homes.
- Most insurance policies for homes do not cover termite infestations.
- One among four homes in Australia has termite infestations of varying stages.
- Never disturb a termite nest without professional help. It serves to reroute them to other parts of the house.
Understanding how they work
Termites are quite resourceful as in they are tenacious enough to find a way around most barricades. They have the ability to squeeze through the smallest of cracks and holes in the walls and ground easily. Termites need controlled environments to manifest and most of the time their nests and paths have higher temperature than surroundings. Simply put, they can come in contact with homes through timber supports or tunnels in the ground caused due to fissures in concrete or pipes moving through the foundation. The best ways to locate termites are mud-tunnels, hollow sounding walls or timber supports. Call for professional help as soon as such a suspicion arises.
Some main indications are
- Timber that sounds hollow
- When wood or boards give way to slightest of pressures
- Wood of doors and windows swell beyond reason
- Emergence of cracks in doorjambs and cornices
- Sighting mud inside the house and emerging from cracks
Facts About Termites
- We have over 300 native species of termites in Australia, most of which are not pests of timber in service as they mainly feed on rotting timber or grasses.
- Some colonies of termites may have a population greater than a million and some up to 10 million and more.
- From the time a mating pair of termites establish a colony, it may take 3 to 5 years before the population has developed to several hundred.
- Most pest species of termites require high moisture content in their workings and colonies to survive. They have very thin cuticles (skin).
- Termites are often referred as “white ants”, but they do not have a lot in common with ants. Many species of ants are in fact enemies of termites.
- They will soon die if their skin is allowed to dry out.
- The moisture is important to the growth of fungal mycelia on which the termites feed to obtain some of their protein.
Signs of Termite Infestation – Inside
- Earthen masses of various sizes on architraves of doors, walls, stairs, skirting or other areas o the house.
- Blistering of paint on windows, door architraves and skirting show damage beneath.
- Damp areas on walls often betray the presence of moist earthen material, within which termites live, because they need moisture to survive and spread.
- Termites often make faint tapping noises behind walls of plaster sheeting and timber and also joinery timber. It is very common for these noises to be more noticeable at night.
- Electrical failures and earthen material around power points often reveal termite presence. Fire has also been attributed to termites damaging the insulation around wiring.
Signs of Termite Infestation – Sub-Floor & Roof Areas
- Termites commonly gain access to houses by making earthen leads up piers, even over metal termite caps.
- Leads are constructed over the edges of concrete slabs and enter walls on their way to the roof timbers.
- Termites also make large earthen masses in the sub-floor area usually under the moist areas of the kitchen and the bathroom. These masses maintain a moist atmosphere for the termites.
- Termites will attack flooring bearers and joists and flooring boards of houses with pier and wall construction. The timbers in these situations often show evidence of extensive internal damage. These areas are normally tested with a special knife or screwdriver.
- Earthen masses may also occur in roof cavities and walls which may contain thousand of termites.
- Timbers in the roof area are often attacked. It is a normal procedure to check these to detect any infestation beneath.
Signs of Termite Infestation – Outside
- The most favoured nesting places of many species of termites are trees and tree stumps. Climbing vegetation on tree trunks may conceal evidence of their activity.
- Winged forms of termites which leave on colonizing flights to set up new colonies in summer may be seen emerging from trees, power poles, roofs of houses and the ground. These winged forms (alates) usually appear late in the afternoon when it is hot and humid – just before a storm.
- Untreated timber fences which are attacked may alert you to the possible presence of damage in the house.
- Power poles on the footpath may also contain termite colonies which can also attack houses within their subterranean range (up to 200m).
- Timber stacked on the ground will attract termites and may conceal a colony.
- Untreated railway sleepers or such timber used for garden landscaping can also provide nesting areas for termites.
- Plants in contact with the exterior walls of a house or under verandas or timber decks are sometimes used by termites to gain access to timber. They may travel through the centre of the plant stem and are not detected.
Destroying all Vestiges of Infestation
The most important task of any professional pest control service is to locate the nest of the termite and determine the extent of damage to the structure. Homes that have termite infestations automatically get devalued by a quarters of their worth. There are several types of treatments available for termite infestations.
√ Monitoring and baiting: Under this, bait stations are placed around the house in strategic positions to help detect the pests. The methods are generally unobtrusive and mainly help to treat and prevent. When detected, bait is placed that workers take back to their nests and the toxicant eliminates the whole colony.
√ Chemical barriers: When it comes to removing all vestiges of termite colonies and preventing them from returning, the best way is to use a chemical barrier. Not only is it safe but also quite reliable. It eliminates the termites within 90 days of administration and retains the effect for 5 long years. The procedure can be repeated. Most new constructions have adopted this technique long before they start work. In many cases, termites begin colonizing even before the structure is complete.
With the help of such methods the chances of infestation and further problems are eliminated.
What To Do With Termites – Prevention Tips
- Do not disturb the site of activity as termites often leave an area which has been exposed. This may affect future identification and control methods.
- Do not use insecticides, or surface spray of any kind, on active termites for the same reasons.
- Collect some specimens of the soldier caste (darker heads and may have mandibles). Put them in a small jar with a piece of paper which has been soaked with methylated spirits.
Advantages of Using Professionals
Professionals are not only the best way to remove the vestiges of any damage or possibilities but also allow more strength to the structure in the future.
Contain and prevent potential health hazards: The damages caused by the termites may seem like they affect only the house and the structure alone, but it is a potential hazard. If a house collapses on its inhabitants, the casualties could be very high.
Preventing damage to investment: As aforementioned, the potential for damage can easily drag the price of a property down to the gutter. Not even the insurance companies are willing to cover homes affected by termite infestation. A regular Timber Pest inspection and Report is recommended by the Australian Standards AS3660 series – at least each 12 months and more often in high risk areas. Some properties are also high risk due to their construction design.
Legal and moral duty: While termites have no discretion and may gnaw on any and all building they like to, owners are still responsible for their actions. Public buildings, construction sites and all such vulnerable places should stay free of infestation without fail. The resultant loss of reputation due to negligence could turn costly. A careful inspection of the building and surrounds should be carried out by a licensed timber pest technician before any treatment is undertaken.
We have reasonable rates and also offer long term association with their many deals and packages that make the idea of constant supervision a possibility. In order to get the best results, it is essential that the right tools be used and only the best agencies can guarantee results. Contact the professionals at Outback Pest Control Pest Management Services to discuss your options and arrange a convenient time for a technician to address your concern/s.