• Robert Bate

Everything you need to know about termites

Termites cost Australian home owners millions of dollars in repairs and treatments every single year. As a country, we spend more on termite repairs and eradication than we do on repairs after natural disasters. Subterranean termites are no joke which is why we've put together all the information you need to know about termites.

Termites or white ants?

Subterranean termites are commonly referred to as "white ants" and it comes from their appearance more than anything else. The worker termites (make up the majority of the population) are white in colour and they're small, like ants, hence the colloquial name: white ants. Interestingly, subterranean termites are not even an ant species at all and are more closely related to cockroaches than ants.

What do termites eat?

Dumb question right? Wood....Duh! Actually termites will eat any cellulose material like timber, cotton, paper or cardboard. We've posted before about jobs we've been to where the termites have made a meal of boxes of old paper records instead of eating the timber in the home. Termites love timber because an enzyme in their gut help them extract cellulose from the timber.

Where do subterranean termites live?

From the name you may have gathered subterranean termites live

underground, in the dirt. They create labyrinths of tunnels called galleries the termites use to seek out food and water to sustain the colony. Termites love the dark and they love humidity and will avoid being exposed to natural sunlight at all costs which is why subterranean termite create what we call "mud leads" so they can travel above the ground without being exposed. Most of the time when termites attack a home, the nest is outside or near the structure and the termites travel back and forth between. However, termites have been known to set up nests or "sub nests" in the walls of the homes they are infesting.

Termites are also known to create arboreal nests, which means nests in trees. There is a funny rumor going around that these termites won't attack your home. To a termite timber is timber and they can't discern whether the timber they're eating is your house or some other random scrap of wood. However, it's likely your home is the largest collection of timber on your property and to a termite it's all just one big pile of food, waiting to be eaten!

How do I get rid of them?