All you need to know about termites…

Termites in Sydney

  • 1 in 5 homes have a history of termite attack
  • Termite damage is not covered by standard home insurance policies
  • A termite management plan is a must to protect your property from termite attack

Serial Pest Control have extensive termite management experience and are fully licensed and insured to provide termite inspections, termite treatments and advice to keep your home safe from termite attack.

For expert termite advise, treatments and inspections call the specialists at Serial Pest Control

4 key elements to protect your home from termites

Whatever the construction type, annual termite inspections are a must for all homeowners – they are like a ‘health check’ for your home. For most houses, it will also be necessary to install a termite management system to prevent concealed termite attack on your property.

Here’s how your home construction, our termite services and your actions all work together to keep your home save from termite attack.

The building construction – A physical termite barrier

Whether you home is built on a concrete slab or on brick piers, building regulations require that a number of physical construction features should be incorporated during construction to prevent concealed termite attack.

When we talk about termite prevention or treatments, we always talk about preventing concealed termite attack, that is, the measures we take are designed to prevent termites getting into your house and causing damage without being noticed. For example, metal ‘ant’ capping is placed over brick piers to prevent termites moving up through the middle of the brick pier to access the floor timbers. If they could do this, they would be able to start eating away at your home without being noticed. With the metal capping in place, it forces the termites to build their mud tubes around the outside of the metal capping to get to the floor timbers. If they do this, their activity will be noticed during an annual termite inspection and treated accordingly.

However, often these physical barriers are insufficient on their own to prevent termite attack or the actions of homeowners over the years have meant these physical barriers have been made redundant – for example, if homeowners build garden beds, paths, patios or decks too high around the perimeter of the building.

In situations where the physical construction features are insufficient to provide complete termite protection, a chemical termite treatment or other termite protection product needs to be installed to ensure a complete termite protection system.

When you are building extensions or carrying out renovations it is also important to follow the same building regulations.

Annual termite inspections

Annual professional termite inspections [link to termite inspection page] are recommended by all governments and building authorities at least once a year. Not only will these termite inspections detect termite activity and termite damage, but they will also identify potential construction faults and conditions around the building that could a termite attack more likely, such as leaks and drainage issues.

Annual termite inspections are still required for new homes and for homes with termite management systems in place in order to main any warranties.

Make your home less attractive to termites

Termites love moisture, so if you can make conditions around your home drier, it will go a long way to making your home less attractive to termites.

Improving drainage under and around the perimeter of your home is an important first step, but fixing leaks (taps, gutters, showers, and pipework) and avoid watering any garden beds immediately adjacent to your home is also critical. A list of recommendations will be provided in the termite inspection report.

Fixing any construction faults that are identified in the termite inspection report will also be imported to eliminate any potential termite entry points.

Install a termite management system

A termite management system is installed around existing building to prevent concealed termite attack.

There are two potential termite management systems:

  1. A termite chemical soil treatment around and under your home
  2. A termite monitoring and baiting system

Termite management systems are designed to work in combination with the physical elements of the building to create a complete termite protection system.

As these systems are designed to eliminate concealed termite entry points, it is still important to have annual termite inspections to check if termites are trying to find a way around the termite protection measures. For this reason, if you have a termite management system installed, annual termite inspections are required to maintain any warranty. These annual termite inspections will also check to see if there have been any developments over the previous 12 months which may have impacted the integrity of the system. E.g., Plants growing, plumbers digging up soil, etc.

Termite information

Termites or white ants?

Some people call termites, “white ants”. Although they may look superficially like ants, there are actually more closely related to cockroaches.

There are 4 easy ways to tell the difference between ants and termites:

  • Ants have three obvious body segments, termites have 2 body segments
  • Ants are black or brown in colour, termite workers are a pale, mottled white colour
  • Ant antennae are bent, termite antennae are straight
  • Ants have obvious eyes, termite workers are blind

If you think you have termites, give Serial Pest Control a call immediately

Types of termites in Sydney

The main type of pest termite species are subterranean termites. These species always need to have access to the ground and moisture. Most of their nests are on or underground. Sometimes they can be arboreal (in the trees), but these still need to have access to the ground.

Subterranean termites like to remain hidden and their foraging trails are often underground. When they appear above ground, they build mud tubes or tunnels to protect them from predators and from drying out.

The main subterranean termite species in Sydney are Coptotermes, Schedorhinotermes and Nasutitermes. Coptotermes can build nests of up to 1 million termites and can cause significant damage in 6-12 months. Schedorhinotermes can be more difficult to control as they build lot of small nests as part of the same colony – if you kill only one nest, there will still be others to attack your home.

Occasionally, you can also get drywood termites in Sydney. They can be very difficult to locate and control as they build lots of small nests throughout a building and do not need to be in contact with soil.

Termite nests

Coptotermes and Schedorhinotermes tend to build their nests underground or hidden in the base of trees so can be difficult to spot. Nasutitermes produce very obvious mounds and so are generally easy to spot. However, since termites can travel over 100m underground from their nest to feeding sites, and there is often more than one nest in the range of most buildings, there is no way to definitely know that any nest you spot is the same nest that is attacking your home.

Coptotermes and Nasutitermes have one central nest. However, Coptotermes sometimes build staging posts (bivouacs) inside buildings so individual workers don’t have to travel all the way from the nest to the feeding site. Schedorhinotermes are a “multi-nester” which can make them more difficult to control. They can develop a number of nests (all part of the same colony), in a small area, which means you can often have several nests attacking the same building.

When we carry out a termite treatment we always try and find termite nests on the property. If we do find any nests we will treat them directly with insecticide, however we often cannot find the nest and often they are on a neighbouring property. In such cases we will often consider using termite baits to kill the nest.

Flying termites

Flying termites (alates) are the termites that most people will see. These are the new kings and queens which leave mature nests in large numbers on humid nights in spring and early summer.

Flying termites do not fly far from their nest, so if you find flying termites outside or inside your home, you must get an inspection immediately. The nest may not be in your home, but it won’t be far away!

After the flying termites pair off, they land, and their wings fall off. They then walk off together to try and find a location to start a new nest.

These flying termites are different to the workers. Not only do they have wings, but they are a brown colour with obvious eyes. They will be attracted to lights in the evening. Sometimes you may see piles of wings on the floor or under windows when you get up in the morning. If you do, please call Serial Pest Control immediately.

Termite queen

The termite queen produces all the eggs for the colony and so is the most important termite in the nest. As the colony grows the queen turns into an egg laying machine. Some species have more than one queen in the colony.

The objective of any termite treatment is to try and eliminate the nest and to do this you have to kill the queen(s). If you only kill the workers, the queen will just lay more eggs to replace the lost workers.

Termite workers

The termite workers are the ones that do all the damage. They chew up bits of wood and take them back to the nest.

Termite soldiers

The termite soldiers protect the colony from predators. They have darker and larger heads than worker termites and have larger or modified jaws, which allows them to attack invaders, but also prevents them feeding themselves. The soldiers make up less than 10% of the colony. However, with their different appearance, they are helpful in helping termite professionals identify the species.

What do termites eat?

Pest termites eat wood or other wood-based materials such as paper and cardboard. They have unique microbes in their gut which helps them to break down the cellulose in wood.

More information

For further expert information on termites and videos go to the termite page on the Professional Pest Manager website

For expert termite advice, treatments and inspections call the specialists at Serial Pest Control