FACTS & FAQs

ANSWERS

Q.Are ‘white ants’ the same as termites?
A.Yes. What people refer to as ‘white ants’ are termites and the term ‘white ants’ is a misnomer that is simply descriptive of their appearance.Termites are a different species to ants and are more closely related to cockroaches than ants.If you look carefully at a termite, you will notice a number of distinct variances from ants.  Ants have a segmented body and are more closely related to bees.

Q.Are all termites the same?
A. No. There are many different types of termites. Some termites only eat grass or vegetation whilst others eat timber.  There are about 2800 species of termites world-wide with about 500 species residing in Australia.  There are about 30 species in Australia that are known pests of timber-in-service. These include dampwood termites, drywood termites and subterranean  termites.  That is why it is important to identify the species of termite as  there are varying solutions for different species.  Some species are aggressive and some are shy and they vary as to their nesting habits. Identifying and treating termite infestation has become a very exacting science which requires extensive knowledge and skills from pest technicians.

Q.Are termites found everywhere in Australia?”]No.  They are rarely found in Tasmania.  However, termites are found in nearly every area throughout mainland Australia and on most offshore islands.

Parts of Victoria which previously had relatively few termites have noticed a recent upsurge in the incidence rate over the last few years.  This is probably attributable to climate change which generally provides conditions that are more favourable to termites.

The incidence rate is generally much higher in tropical and sub-tropical parts of Australia.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Are termite management systems and products effective in stopping termites so as to protect my home?”]You need to understand the limitations of your termite management system or product as all systems and products are subject to an ongoing regime of inspection and/or maintenance.

It is not a set and forget scenario, and ‘termite management’ is the key  phrase that should replace the ‘termite protection’ whenever or wherever it is used in relation to termites.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Are termite management systems and products that are currently in the market-place designed to manage all timber eating termites?”]No!  Currently, termite management systems in the market-place are  only designed to manage subterranean termites and not drywood termites which fly and do not require ground contact.

Drywood termites are more widely distributed than first thought and have  infested many areas of Queensland, including parliament house, the Treasury building and several RNA buildings, as well as private  residences.

Many buildings in Manly have been affected by West Indian termite infestations.
These infestations were previously confined to Queensland but recent outbreaks have been detected in residences in New South Wales with the problem spreading and on the rise.

The West Indian drywood termite is difficult to treat, with the affected building required to be ‘tented’ with tarpaulins and methyl bromide gas being applied to the infestation.   A very unpleasant experience!

Obviously, the occupants require to be relocated and there has been an  upsurge in the rate of infestation by drywood termites in suburban homes.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”I have termites in my yard and in my perimeter fences.  Does that mean I have termites in my home?”]Not necessarily.  Termites are commonly found near Australian homes and generally there are one or two nests within fifty metres of the perimeter of your home thereby placing your home in the range of  termites.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Where do termites generally attack homes?”]If the house construction is slab-on-ground you find that in 99% of cases the termites attack the perimeter of the construction.Termites surmount any and all obstacles in their way and subterranean termites have been found in 38th story apartments in high-rise buildings.

You often find termites will enter through ‘wet areas’ such as the laundry,  bathrooms and kitchen as this often provides them with moisture which is a prime requirement for their survival.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”How do I identify what form of termite management has been used in my home?”]Generally, there is a treatment notice sticker in the electrical fuse and meter box which is generally located on the side of the house near the front of the property.  In some cases the sticker can be located in the kitchen in cupboards under the sink.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”If I build my home from steel, will my home be protected against termites?”]No!  Steel frames are not termite-proof!  They are only termite-resistant!

Termites can invade steel framed homes and consume the paper on the back of gyprock as well as timber scantlings.

The acrid (waste product) faeces expelled and secretions of body fluids on to a galvanized steel frame reacts to cause  the frame to corrode.

Also, most of the internal timbers in steel framed homes are generally at risk items (doors, jambs, architraves, mouldings, reveals, etc.) that can  be consumed by termites.

Kitchen, wardrobe fittings and furniture can  also provide food for termites.

Often, steel homes are more “at risk” because the tie-down capacity is compromised when studs are severed by termite actions.

Timber framing requires threaded rod that secures tie-down in the top plate, whilst steel framing only secures tie-down in the bottom plate.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”If I bring firewood into my home which has termites residing in the timber, will these termites damage my home?”]No!  Not unless they are Drywood termites.  Subterranean termites need to maintain a link to the nest and will generally die soon after they are separated from their links to the nest. [/toggle]

[toggle title=”What should I do if I discover termites in my home?”]You should try not to disturb the termite movement as this can adversely affect any subsequent treatment.

Some species when discovered will retreat back to their nest or sub-nest and there can be difficulty in locating and treating the infestation. In some cases there may be more than one species attacking your home.

You should immediately call a fully qualified licensed pest manager to identify and treat the infestation.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”If I have ants around, will they stop termites from invading my home?   Ants are the natural enemy of termites.”]Termites are secretive and generally travel through mud tunnels called ‘leads’ or ‘galleries’ which provide protection against ants.

However, sometimes ants manage to gain access to a lead or a nest and they will then attack the termite colony.

It is however a rare event that the ants discover the chamber where the queen resides and she is generally able to produce about 2,000 eggs per day.

This means that the termite colony can quickly replenish any losses caused by an ant incursion.

Therefore, the broad answer is no in nearly all instances.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”How many homes in Australia are affected by termites?”]There have been varying figures on this with one study done several years ago providing an incidence rate of one in every four homes becoming infested during its lifetime.

It is difficult to determine the accuracy of these figures because homeowners often try to hide the fact that they have been affected by termites for fear of decreasing the value of their home.

It has been suggested that as many as one out of every two houses is a more accurate figure.

What we do know is that the incidence rate is rapidly on the increase since the demise of the effective and persistent organochlorine chemical termiticides that were discontinued in mid-1995 for reasons of health and  safety.

Unfortunately, there was no real effective replacement solution when these termiticides were discontinued. [/toggle]

[toggle title=”How much damage do termites cause?”]There are varying estimates in relation to the damage bill with one financial estimate stating that termites cause more damage each year than the combined total of all natural (drought, flood, fire and storm) disasters in Australia.

A recent estimate from the Archicentre suggested a total of about 910 million dollars per annum in treatment and repairs.

This would appear to be a very conservative estimate as evidenced by  the rapid increase of pest technicians entering the industry.

The incidence rate is continuing to increase for a wide variety of factors and there is a school of thought that bureaucrats are unwittingly working on behalf of termites and ‘white-anting’ ordinary Australian Homeowners by either not having sufficient understanding of the problem or refusing to acknowledge the severity of the problem.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Will physical termite management systems built into the construction of my home – Items such as ant caps, graded stone, metal plate shielding, chemical plastic blankets, etc.; stop termites accessing my home?”]No. Definitely Not!

The purpose of these systems is only to prevent ‘concealed entry’ and not entry per se!

The fact is that these are simply “termite monitoring systems” that divert termite movement to where it can be observed and chemically treated to remove the infestation.

If, however, the termite movement is not observed and treated, the termites can continue around or over the physical termite management system and access your home.

The action of termites going over or around a physical termite management systems is discussed as “bridging” of the system.

Termites can “bridge” these systems in hours and inspections are generally an annual event.

Termites can often access buildings prior to the construction phase being completed.

When they “bridge” a physical termite management system, chemicals are required to treat the infestation despite advertised claims that they are eco-friendly chemical-free systems.

If you carefully read your warranty conditions you will note that where ‘bridging’ of the system occurs there is no warranty provided by the manufacturer! [/toggle]

[toggle title=”Will bait stations protect my home against termites?”]They may assist in preventing termites attacking your home but should not be relied upon as a primary form of defence against termites.

Baits are continuing to improve in quality and efficacy as are the attractants that lure termites to the stations.

However, much the same as fishing, termites can bypass baits for other food sources such as the timber in your home.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Is there anything other than chemical termiticide or the mineral boron that can kill termites?”]The short answer is No!

There is a form of tiny worms (nematodes) and also certain fungi that have been used and had some relatively small successes.

However, these methodologies are very ineffective in comparison with chemicals or boron and presently cannot be relied upon as an effective means of controlling termites.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Do termites eat concrete”]No, termites do not eat concrete.

Some termite species release body fluids that impact adversely on concrete and cause it to degrade. However, termites can squeeze through very small cracks in concrete about a millimetre wide and are often able to negotiate a passage through a concrete slab.

Access is generally determined by the size of the head of the termite with the rest of the body being a fluid sac that is dragged through the crack. Also, termites can often make their way through mortar by moving particles,of sand in the mix.

Cold joints in concrete often provide termite access. [/toggle]

[toggle title=”Can the “Tru-Core” technology be applied where physical termite management systems are applied?”]Yes.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Can “Tru-Core” technology be applied where the timber has been previously treated with LOSP timber treatment?”]No.

The LOSP treatment uses solvents and/or oils that resist penetration by the “Tru-Core” process. [/toggle]

[toggle title=”Are there presently any systems in the market-place other than “Tru-Core” that are able to offer a genuine fifty year warranty that will provide complete protection of timber structural elements?”]No.[/toggle]