Termite is the common name of a group of chemically complex insects that live in communities as ants do. They have long been known as white ants however this is not entirely accurate as they only resemble ants in their habits of living together and that they are small in size. Actually, termites are more closely related to cockroaches and grasshoppers. Their mouth parts, antennae, thick waists, primitive wings and other features resemble those of cockroaches. Termites are found almost all over Australia, including suburbs surrounding the Central Coast, such as Gosford. Some build huge mounds of soil mixed with wood saliva. These nests may be 6 metres high. The inside of the mound is divided into various chambers and galleries. In the centre is a closed cell where the queen is kept. The queens’ body goes under extraordinary change. Her body swells up to hold thousands of eggs and she lays them at the rate of several thousand a day. In the treatment process, these communities will be exterminated from your Gosford home.
Studies in the U.S. have revealed that termites cause as much property damage each year as fire does. Not only do they digest wood, paper and other material containing cellulose, with aid of protozoain in their bodies, they also do much damage in tunnelling through the wood work of houses. They can destroy books and furniture and tunnel through fence posts, trees, timbers of wooden buildings, bridges, trestles and other structures. In houses they eat cloth furniture, books and paper. This is why it’s imperative to have regular inspections and treatment for your home in Gosford or other suburbs throughout Australia.
A termite inspection is an examination of the building and property including roof void, sub-floor, internal and external timbers and trees and fences within the property boundaries. It deals with the detection or non-detection of live termite activity and assesses evidence of termite damage, including details of areas of risk. A pre-purchase inspection should be carried out before a property is purchased and treatment applied immediately if you decide to purchase.
Everything looks OK, how do I know if I have termites? – You may not see any signs of termites until it’s too late. The only way you can be really sure you don’t have them is to have an annual Timber Pest Inspection by a qualified inspector, followed by termite treatment for your Central Coast or Gosford home if necessary.
What’s the first step? – The first step is a thorough, detailed, systematic termite inspection of your home, after which you will be recommended a treatment if necessary.
How long does it take? – Depending on the site, the first inspection for timber pests in your home will take between 1 and 1.5 hours
Will I get value for money? – What is your Central Coast or Gosford home worth? Can you afford to not give your home a yearly safety check? It’s a critical part of maintaining your home. Contact our office for a free phone/email treatment quotation.
Will I have to leave the house during the termite inspection? – Not usually. Most work can be undertaken with you at home. However, you will need to leave the premises if your home later needs a treatment.
I’m building a new house or extending my current house in the Central Coast and Gosford area of NSW. What should I do to keep termites out of my new home? – There are many options available for minimizing the risk of termite entry into your new home or renovation. It will depend largely on the construction of your property and we will recommend the best options for your specific circumstance. The methods that we recommend may include physical barriers, chemical barriers and combinations to ensure that you have the best protection available.
Despite common misconception, termites are not closely related to ants. Ants have eyes, a constricted waist and dark bodies, whereas most worker and soldier termites are blind, have no constriction and are creamy in colour.
There are more than 300 species found in Australia but only about 30 could be considered to be pests of timber in service. Of these, the subterranean termites are the most significant, with about 12 species being serious pests. Their diet is centred on cellulose-based materials. These can include the timber used in constructing buildings but could also include furniture, paper materials and fabrics. They can also damage non-cellulose materials such as polystyrene and plasterboard or the plastic coatings on electrical wiring.
Termites are social insects and live in colonies containing a number of different castes. Each caste has a different form and function from the others; each is vital to the viability of the colony. In general terms the life history of all the economically important subterranean species is similar.
On a warm, humid evening large numbers of winged male and females, the “alates” or “primary reproductive”, are released by the colony. A small number survive the flight, drop their two parts distinctive, equal sized wings, pair off, mate, and if they can find a suitable location, start a new colony.
As the other castes take over the running of the colony the young queen of most species becomes “physogastric” – her abdomen distends to many times its original size and she becomes an egg laying machine, laying up to 1000 eggs per day. She is confined to her royal chamber, tended and fed by the workers and regularly fertilised by the male reproductive.
The eggs are removed from the royal chamber and transferred to a nursery by the workers. Here the brood (the eggs and nymphs) develop into the other castes that the colony requires for development and survival; workers, soldiers and primary or secondary reproductives.
Soldiers and workers are blind and sterile termites. The workers carry out the work of the colony and are responsible for gathering the food the colony needs. In most species, the heads of the soldiers are uniquely armoured and equipped to allow them to defend the colony against attack, notably ants.
Coptotermes Acinaciformis is found throughout mainland Australia and causes more damage to property than any other species. It is aggressive in its search for food and will attack many items other than wood in its search for cellulose materials. It will damage wall lining boards, electrical wiring and even personal possessions. Colonies often nest in trees or stumps but can form nests without ground contact. For this reason, regular inspections and treatment is needed for your Central Coast and Gosford home to ensure that it is termite-free.
There are several species of Nasutitermes which may damage timber in service. Soldier termites of these species are distinguished by their pointed heads. Nasutitermes exitiosus usually builds a low mound and is more common across Southern Australia. Nasutitermes walkeri builds part of its colony as a nest on the branch of a tree; the rest is constructed in the ground beneath it. This genus will mainly attack hardwood such as that found in fences and timber decking.
Mastotermes darwiniensis, the Giant Northern, is the most primitive of the commercially significant species. It shows an ability for sub-colonies to split from the main colony and produce queens, without a mating flight. Eventually a network of interconnecting sub-colonies is established, which makes control difficult. These large termites can devastate buildings, bridges, poles, trees and crops such as sugarcane. Mastotermes is found mainly north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
These pests can cause damage approaching the severity caused by Coptotermes. They build fragile nests in places such as old tree trumps, in timber buried in the ground, filled patios and under fireplaces. The damage they cause is distinctive. Although it can be severe it is often patchy, with huge gouges taken out of sound timber, particularly around nails in floor boards or other timbers. Schedorhinotermes colonies contain major and minor soldiers and can only be eradicated with regular inspections and subsequent treatment.
Heterotermes spp. Are a significant structural pest through Queensland, northern WA and the NT. It is only in South Australia where they are a minor nuisance. They are generally considered to do little damage to timber in service, restricting their attention to weathered timber fences, decking and posts. Occasionally they can cause superficial damage to sound timber.
Termites build a nest that contains the queen and king, the nursery and a large proportion of the soldiers and workers. Some species build a hard-shelled mound above or partly below the ground. Others build their nests in the trunk of a tree or below ground in the root crown. A nest can contain several million termites and as such, it is crucial to identify this area during inspections and exterminate it with treatment.
The nesting habits of these subterranean pests can be described in two basic groups:
1. Multi-site nesters (Heterotermes, Schedorhinotermes, Mastotermes)
2. Central-site nesters (Coptotermes, Nasutitermes)
Multi-site nesters utilise many timber sources for nesting and they can move quickly to a new food source. They are able to reproduce quickly using “ergatoid” or multiple reproductive forms so each new timber source located becomes a potential nest. These species can therefore set up multiple colonies within the same house, reinforcing the need for your Central Coast or Gosford home to regularly receive thorough inspections and treatment if necessary.
Central-site nesters generally have one large queen and a central nest position. The activity of the colony is to bring back food to this nest. They can infest multiple timber food sources but cannot reproduce within those timbers. When a moisture source is available within a house structure, central-site nesters often establish their colony inside the building without any ground contact.
Foraging behaviour Central-site nesters show definite seasonal variation with their foraging behaviour. Generally, foraging activity is greater in the warmer months and reduced in cooler winter periods. The available moisture can also limit the foraging activity of these species. Generally distant food sources show greater foraging activity in warmer periods and food sources close to the nest are more active in the cooler months.
Multi-site nesters do not have the same restrictions as they can move their nest to adjacent food sources. This type of foraging activity often leads to splitting of one colony into several distinct colonies within the same area. The activity of these species quickly multiplies in a disturbed environment such as recently cleared land or fire damaged property.
These pests are prone to desiccation. All significant species that attack buildings construct a system of sealed leads that connect the nest to the food sources. They can move safely from the nest to the food and back, in an environment that will protect them against exposure to atmospheric conditions, predators and even pesticides. Regular inspections and treatment will assess and eradicate these leads in your Gosford home.
Timber is the main source of cellulose sought by the commercially important species. Sometimes other, non-cellulosic materials are damaged because they are close to feeding activity. Electrical wiring, switches and plug fittings are often attached and severely damaged by termites. When natural food supplies such as trees run out, the pests will turn to timber in service. Using covered mud tunnels to link the food supply to the nest, they will work in timbers that are hidden in floor, wall or ceiling spaces and the damage is often not discovered until structural failure takes place or they reveal themselves in some way. They can cause extensive damage and more than one colony may attack a building at the same time.
In order to minimise the extent of termite damage it is recommended that regular inspections be carried out by a competent and experienced inspector, followed by appropriate treatment if necessary. Call Ace Pest on 4382 1600 to book a termite inspection and treatment quote for your Gosford or Central Coast home today.