For most people – the family home is one of your most important assets, but with the threat of termites it can also become quite a problem. In Australia termites cause more damage to homes than fires, storms & floods combined. One in four homes in NSW are affected by termite damage and the damage to each home can result in very expensive repair costs. You may not be aware, but termite damage is NOT covered by your household insurance policy, so therefore the costs of these repairs are the responsibility of YOU the homeowner. Termites have been part of the natural ecosystem for more than 150 million years. Commonly called “ white ants “ they are not ants & are more closely related to cockroaches. In Australia there are more than 300 species of termites but approximately only 15 of these will attack timber in service.The remainder being mainly grass feeders. Termites can be divided into 3 groups, Dampwood, Drywood & Subterranean .
Dampwood mainly feed on moist rotting timber in forests. Drywood termites live in small pockets in the dead wood of trees & timber within houses.They obtain their moisture from the timber they consume & require no contact with the soil. Subterranean termites are generally ground dwelling & require soil contact or another source of moisture.It is these termites that cause the most damage to timber in service in Australia .
Life Cycle – Termites develop gradually. A young larva on hatching from the egg, passes through several moults before becoming a mature worker, soldier or fully winged reproductive.There is no pupal or resting stage & the nymphs resemble the adults or mature castes.The queen lays her eggs & these are tendered to by the workers.The soldiers & workers may live for one or two years & the king & queen may live much longer – up to 50 years.From hatching to the mature worker or soldier usually takes about two to three months,this depends on food & climatic conditions.Eggs hatching in winter take longer to reach the particular adult caste than eggs hatching in summer.The production of reproductives (alates) is mostly an annual event from a mature colony.
Termite Biology – Termites are social insects in that they live & work together in large colonies, each individual having a specific task to perform to enable the colony to function. These tasks can be divided into three main roles eg: reproducing, working & protecting. Every type (caste) of termite within the colony eg: reproductives, workers & soldiers have a specialized body shape & behaviour which enables them to perform their specific tasks.
Termite Nests – Termites build various types of nests. Some termites have a completely underground existence without their main nest whilst others build a central nest in the soil, or in living & dead trees. Other species attach their nests to trees but maintain soil contact via galleries running along the outside of the trunk. A termite mound is the most familiar form of termite nest. Mounds are quite often distinctive in form depending on the species of termite.