Termites and Your Environment!

Termites around Taree, Forster and Gloucester have been showing their destructive force recently with active job after active job, devastated home owner after devastated home owner. With one in four houses being attacked by termites, it’s worth the five minutes to read this information and implement environmental change!

Below I’ll list some helpful hints to help reduce your houses susceptibility and help you avoid the dreaded subterranean termites. First ,however, I’d like to make the point that an important part of any properties termite management plan is a termite management system. Whether that is a treated zone, maintenance of an inspection zone, baiting and monitoring system, regular inspections or all of the above, proactive maintenance may be costly, but are often far cheaper than a reactive treatment and associated repair costs.

Storage practices and debris timber-

  • Storage around your house can be a big influencing factor for termites. Storing items, whether it is timber or not, against the structure can conceal the important inspection zone around your house and allow termites to get in and start eating your house without you knowing.
  • Storing timber, or timber based items (paper, cardboard etc) on slab joins, cracks or directly on the ground without an inspection zone can be risky business. This will act as an invitation, inviting them ever closer to a tasty treat, your home!
  • Storing accumulated, undisturbed timber or timber items when mixed with a constant water supply is a dream come true for ‘alates’ (the flying insects which have been driving us crazy just before storms lately) who will use this as an opportunity to start a new colony with the ability to eat your house!
  • Debris timber, or timber items around, or worse, under, your home are an attractive treat, inviting termites ever closer to your home.

Ventilation and moisture-

Termites require a consistent moisture source for survival. They can get the moisture from many places and will seldom have trouble maintaining the required moisture, however, you don’t want to give them a reason to come knocking! Here are some common issues we see.

  • Water discharged next to a structure. We quite commonly see hot water system and air conditioning water outlets or open ended down pipes which drain to right next to the structure. This is bad news! You are giving termites a reason to want to be that close to your house.
  • Leaks. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bathroom, laundry, water pipe or water tank if they are leaking, especially close to the structure, your sending out an open invitation to termites.
  • Ventilation, especially in subfloor areas, when inadequate can be bad news for your home! Houses are designed to naturally ventilate. If you have weepholes concealed or a poorly thought out construction type this will be your worst enemy. Restricted or inefficient ventilation will not allow rising damp from the surrounding soil to leave the area and it will condense on surrounding surfaces including timber, raising its moisture content. Once the moisture content in the timber rises it becomes more attractive to termites and will start to be attacked by fungal decay, another timber pest which can cause significant damage and structural failure.

Heavy foliage and vegetation-

Heavy foliage and vegetation abutting the structure creates multiple problems including;

  • Termites can use vegetation in contact with the structure as a means to ‘bridge’ a treated zone or inspection zone allowing them concealed access to all the timber your house has to offer.
  • Vegetation will often cover weepholes causing ventilation issues and all the associated bad news.
  • Some plants have intricate root systems which may make their way through treated or inspection zones again, allowing termites free, undisclosed access to your house.

Timber structures-

Timber structures in unimpeded access to the soil are an attractive feed and even nesting site to termites.

  • Large posts (fence, piers, power poles etc.), timber retaining walls, timber garden beds, and any other susceptible timber with a consistent moisture source are ideal conditions for the establishment of nests close to your house!
  • Structures such as deckings, formwork timbers or timber piers in soil contact can act as an easy highway for termites to get into your house causing thousands of dollars damage before you even know.

Attachments to buildings-

Modern homes are designed to have an area of un impeded access called an inspection zone. Unfortunately, all too often this area becomes concealed due to additions and attachments to the house such as.

  • Down pipes and fences are often hard fixed to the structure and don’t allow for inspection behind.
  • Patios, deckings and verandah without access under/behind often conceal the all-important inspection zone.
  • Extensions added to the house should have a great deal of thought applied to ensure you integrate the existing inspection zone with that of the addition.

Ground levels-

If external ground levels are higher than the slab edge (if applicable), internal ground levels, weepholes, post stirrups, or adjacent subfloor soil levels this can allow termites a free, undetectable entry path into your house where they could remain undetected for days, weeks or months.

Dead trees and stump-

These are ideal nesting conditions for termites and often hold all the key ingredients for a reproductive flight to create a new nest near your house. Remember, the destructive subterranean termite species we regularly encounter throughout Taree, Forster and Gloucester can forage for 50-80 + meters from their nest to your house.

In summary, your house is an expensive asset which should be maintained. This includes for termites. Making small environmental changes around your house could save you thousands in damage repair and treatment costs. The book ‘Australian termites and other common timber pests’ by Phillip Hadlington describes that the economic impact of termites by saying, ‘termite damage to houses and buildings is well known, and prevention, control and replacement costs throughout Australia must be several million dollars annually.’ As a pest control technician I see active termites in structures, whether they are rural, residential, steel framed, multi story apartment blocks, commercial, or anywhere in-between on an almost daily basis and the devastation, and often surprise I see on the customers face when I inform them of their bad news is heartbreaking. On the other hand, giving every customer the best option in treatment and facilitating the relief they feel knowing they have the best team for the job, Local Pest Experts, on their side is a heart-warming experience.