The termites of Australia are a numerous group, with several hundred species found on the island continent. Although there are scores of different types of termites in each region of the country, most of these have little impact on human habitations. Termites serve a valuable function in the ecology of warmer regions, helping to break down the abundant wood of warm climate forests into fertile loam that can continue to sustain a rich ecosystem. There are only a handful of “rogue” species in Australia, most of them introduced from abroad and thus with few or no natural controls.
Termites are closely related to cockroaches – indeed, research suggests that they are in fact a type of highly social, blind, wood-eating cockroach – despite their common (and erroneous) name of “white ant”. They are less aggressive than ants, though they have a large soldier caste to defend the nest from these insects, which are among their most dangerous predators. Some termites colonies include nasutes – a type of soldier able to squirt “glue” from a dispenser-like head onto attacking ants.
Dampwood termites are one of the major types of termites found in Australia. As their name suggests, they attack wood that is fairly moist – which is likely to be true of the wood found near your foundation, in your basement, or near areas of the house equipped with running water, such as the kitchen and the bathroom. Their nests are usually located in the ground away from your house, where plenty of moisture is available, and are unlikely to be found directly. Dampwood termites approach your building through tunnels or shelter tubes, staying out of sight to avoid both dehydration and predation.
Dampwood termites often construct “bivouacs” inside timber structures – special chambers for safety and resting, lined with mud for additional protection. These are not to be confused with the actual nest of the termites – there is no egg laying queen in the bivouac, although there may be a food supply, making this a poor spot to place poisoned baits.
Drywood termites, on the other hand, are extremely destructive and can live well away from water, typically living entirely in the timber they are devouring. This makes them harder to detect, since they seldom venture outside the safety of their galleries, but they are easier to manage when they are found, since the whole nest is concentrated in an accessible place.
Each variety of termite has special management techniques due to its different habits, methods of feeding, techniques of social interaction, and so on. Some termites respond quickly to poisoned baits, while others are less likely to succumb quickly and may need other management methods as well. Termite identification is usually carried out by looking at the soldiers, which are the most distinctive class between species.
The professional termite control specialists at Nationwide Pest Control are ready to identify your termite species quickly and effectively, and recommend the best control options to protect your wooden structures from these tiny but diligent pests.