Termites are commonly referred to as “white ants”, but they’re more accurately described as subterranean termites. Subterranean termites attack a building, usually from a remote nest. They can’t spend extended periods exposed to light or air, and anything they can’t eat their way through to access a feeding site (a home or building), they have to build a mud tunnel around.
There are some 350 different species of subterranean termites, but of that, there are really only about half a dozen of economic importance in South East Queensland, with the major destructive species being Coptotermes spp and Schedorhinotermes spp. The major destructive termite species are usually found through damaged trim timbers within a home, or a termite mud lead being found under or outside a home.
There are minor subterranean termite species like Microcerotermes spp in South East Queensland, that aren’t regarded as being very destructive. They’re usually found outside building a mound on the ground, or hanging off the side of a tree. We find the minor termite species to be quite useful, particularly for homes with chemical termite barriers. If the chemical barriers fail, the minor termite species can enter a home. What makes the minor termite species especially useful is that they’re not shy. They don’t make much of an effort to conceal themselves at all. They become a treatment trigger, in that they let you know your termite barriers are failing and require some reinstatement, but they’re usually found attacking the paper of the plasterboard, long before serious structural damage occurs. If the minor species can get past the chemical termite barriers, then the major destructive species can too!
There are also drywood termites in South East Queensland. Drywood termites work with smaller colonies, and don’t require contact with an external nest. They’re typically found in a home where a bit of dirt or “frass” is found in the same place each day. Ordinary ants produce a similar dirt or “frass” to drywood termites. A simple test to tell if it’s ordinary ants or drywood termites is to place a bit of the frass in the palm of one hand and rub with the fingers of the other hand. Frass from ordinary ants will change composition, and practically rub to nothing. No matter how much you rub drywood termite frass that way, it won’t change composition. There are two main types of drywood termite. A native drywood termite (Cryptotermes primus) where treatment is at the cost of the owner, and the West Indian drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis), where treatment is typically paid for by Queensland’s Department of Agriculture & Fisheries. If ever you discover drywood termite frass, please don’t hesitate to call Environpest on (07) 3219 2777 to arrange a timber pest inspection. As part of the inspection, we’ll submit your frass sample to Queensland’s Department of Agriculture & Fisheries for official identification.
At Environpest, we like our clients to be well informed in the termite issue. The most important thing we can ever teach our clients about termites is that they DON’T eat a house down overnight. Termites take 12 months to do serious economic damage, and the most important thing to take from that is that no matter what you’re confronted with in the termite issue, you’ve ALWAYS got time to make an informed decision. That puts the purchasing power back in your hands! Someone who is trying to panic you into doing something is usually not acting in your best interests.
The ongoing termite management plan for a home or building is legitimately based around at least annual professional competent timber pest inspection, with any treatment or re-treatment recommendations based on the results of those inspections.
Environpest are not the cheapest timber pest inspection company you’ll find, (and we’re not the most expensive) but as you might have gathered browsing our web site, given what we provide in our inspections and advice, you’ll find we’re incredibly good value. The value of the honest advice you get here will be remembered long after you’ve forgotten the price!