Termites are a big deal here on the Sunshine Coast. Recent statistics indicate that nearly ⅓ of all homes in the area will be affected by termites. With over 300 different species of termites in Australia, it is impossible to be able to identify all of them, but there are three main types that homeowners should be on the lookout for: subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites.
Subterranean termites are the most common species that infest homes. As the name implies, subterranean termites usually create nests underground. They require a significant source of moisture, which they get from the soil. In order to maintain adequate levels of humidity, these termites create mud tubes from the soil to wood that is touching the ground. These tubes are made of soil, saliva, and cellulose and are a sure sign of an infestation.
The damage done by subterranean termites in Australia can reach into the billions of dollars. Damaged wood often appears layered (sometimes described as a honeycomb pattern) because they eat only the softwood and feed with the grain of the wood. The termite tunnels also accumulate soil and mud inside them. This species of termite is most active during the spring.
Subterranean worker termites
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require a lot of moisture to survive. They are able to get adequate moisture from the air and wood. This means that they do not need to have a connection to the ground. The nests are usually constructed above ground and sometimes entirely in a single piece of wood. Drywood termites are commonly found in attics, wooden beams, and even pieces of furniture.
There are many distinctive signs that point to drywood termites. The frass (excrement) of drywood termites is hexagonal, (6 concave sides), with rounded ends and is usually ⅛ of an inch in size. Drywood termites will create small holes in the wood and push the frass out of their tunnels. These piles of frass may resemble sawdust to the untrained eye. Drywood termites feed across the grain of the wood and will create large chambers with smaller connecting tunnels. They are most active late spring and early summer.
Termite Frass By Sanjay Acharya [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Although dampwood termites do not usually enter homes, when the conditions are right, they can infest structures and cause damage. Dampwood termites are extremely dependent on moisture, and prefer damp, decaying wood. They mostly live in stumps, fallen logs, and other water-damaged lumber. This species of termite is larger than its subterranean counterparts and can grow up to 25 mm long.
You may have dampwood termites if you have water leaks or drainage issues that are causing major wood decay in or around your home. Damage caused by dampwood termites consists of clean, smooth galleries (tunnels) that go across the grain. The best prevention methods for dampwood termites is removing the excess moisture by fixing the plumbing, getting rid of decaying stumps or branches, fixing drainage issues, and replacing any damaged wood.
Dampwood Alate By Judy Gallagher [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
While determining the species of termite is important in deciding the appropriate treatment, a professional exterminator is your best bet to get an accurate identification. The friendly technicians at Radar Pest Control can handle any of your termite problems. We will perform an inspection, come up with a customized plan, and perform treatments that will protect your home and get rid of the termites. For Sunshine Coast Termite Control, contact Radar Pest Control today.