Basic Termite stuff
This is written for Do-it-Yourselfers — homeowners researching to understand the basics:
- what makes termites want to eat your home
- how they get in
- how you can get them out and
- how to defend your home into the far distant future.
First. Be reassured, you can do a proper job, safely. You’ll need bait to kill termites you’ve found; you’ll need monitors to intercept any new colonies snooping around your home and you’ll need advice.
We offer you all three.
But as you’ve come to this research page for more details rather than a sales pitch, we should begin with helping you understand your enemy…
In the beginning…
- Some plants developed woody stems to hold their leaves up higher in the competition for sunlight…. trees.
- Some insects began to
specialisein finding and eating this new stored energy…. termites.
The only part of the mainland that is rated by the CSIRO as Low to Very Low is the narrow strip along the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne. Which means the rest of us are in Moderate to High to Very
A few years ago, a CSIRO survey reported 32% of homes had had a termite presence.
This was confirmed by the Institute of Australian Architects whose survey
The three serious termites have three common instincts which
- They forage for multiple food sources in many directions, never relying on one.
- They protect themselves with tunnels and seal their feeding areas from loss of humidity.
- Workers continually carry partly digested food back to the nest
Termites or ants?
When the upstart ants began developing about 100 million years after termites, the termites had to improve their security by building better protective tunnels. Ants and termites have been enemies ever since.
Similar in size and choosing similar environments, it is easy to see why the First Fleeters at Sydney Cove were confused. They soon found the bottoms of their crates of stores eaten out by a mass of what they called “white ants”… actually termites. Same thing.
So let’s clear up the difference:
Three simple things differentiate ants from termites:
- Ants have an elbow in their antennae; termites’ are like a string of beads.
- The ant body is in three definite sections. The termite thorax and abdomen has no distinct ‘waist’
- Termites are the only insect that has forewings and hindwings of the same shape and length.
Termite life cycle and instincts
It’s a cycle, so let’s break in and start at the colonizing flight.
New colonies begin when winged reproductive termites fly out of a mature colony in the first weeks of summer when the heat and humidity outside
In their natural
Once a nest site is chosen, the young couple, having shed their wings, begin to excavate and secure a chamber just below ground level adjacent to the wood/food. They tend their first eggs and the hatching nymphs which grow into workers in a series of
The queen may live for 10-30 years (who knows for sure?) becoming a bag of eggs. Once her egg production drops under say, a thousand a day, “they” sometimes select a developing reproductive to become the new queen.
When the nest has been established about 3-5 years and every year from then on, a batch of nymphs will become reproductive “teenagers” developing longer bodies, heads with eyes and finally wings. Then on that warm, early summer evening, when the outside conditions closely match the warm and humid conditions inside the colony, someone yells “Geronimo!” and they flutter off into the dangerous unknown. The new cycle begins.
Subterranean and dry wood termites
Most termites require a constant source of moisture which is most reliably found in the soil. Those that build their nests in hollow trees have the best conditions: the hollow goes down to the moist soil and the encompassing tree trunk provides them with protection from predators, assists in humidity control and the heartwood is food. Termites from mounds that arise from the soil, or are attached to the outside of branches or trunks of hollow trees are also categorized as subterranean termites.
Subterranean termites are dependent on moisture. If they are separated from their humid and temperature controlled nests and galleries, they cannot survive. If a load of firewood or mulch is delivered with termites, they will die and definitely not attack your home. If a homeowner discovers termites in a window frame and rips it apart to see the extent of the damage, the termite workers will seal off the next narrow “pass’ back from that damaged area (closer to the nest) and those termites above or further out from the damaged area will dry out and die because they are excluded and can’t get back. Termites of any species will not survive if separated from intact nest conditions.
The alternative category is the