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Types of Termites in Australia

When it comes time to purchase a property, there are plenty of things to consider and searches to undertake, with one of the most important being the pest and building inspection. 

You may be tempted to skip this step but with around 150,000 properties coming under attack from white ants and termites every year in Australia, it’s probably not a good idea.

types of termites in Australia - Schederhinoterms active in a fence post

Schederhinoterms active in a fence post in Burpengary

termites in window frame

types of termites in australia - nasuititermes in a tree

nasuititermes in a tree at Narangba

Termites work fast and can cause irreparable structural damage within 12 months of attacking a home.  The worst part is that most insurance companies won’t cover the cost to repair the damage!  

Termites are social insects that are sometimes mistaken for ants. They tend to be light or even white in colour, so often get referred to as “white ants” – however, termites belong to a completely different insect group than true ants. They are more like cockroaches

3 Main Types of Termites in Australia

Termites are classified into three different categories:

1  Dry Wood Termites

These termites live in small colonies of less than 1000 individuals; you may find them in a piece of wooden furniture, munching away on hard or softwood. 

They get all the water that they need from the wood that they ingest, and don’t need to drink or have contact with the ground.  Because of this, they are difficult to detect but they do need high humidity to survive.

2  Damp Wood Termites

These termites love to devour things like old tree trunks, logs, and branches. They like the wood to be damp/wet and so are more likely to be outside than in. They too are difficult to detect and if found inside, then it is more than likely there is a moisture issue in the building.

3  Subterranean Termites

This is the most common and destructive of the types of termites in Australia. 

Subterranean termites need to be near a source of water and so usually make their nests in the ground where they can garner moisture from the soil. They find it easier to digest wood that already has some rot but are quite capable of chewing through a perfectly sound door frame too.

They use the soil to construct nests and shelter tubes, made from a mixture of soil, wood, faeces and saliva. The termites use these tubes to move about safely to forage for food and water.

The most common type of subterranean termite is Coptotermes Acinaciformis – and this guy is the most destructive termite species in Australia, with colonies hosting up to one million individuals. They don’t generally build mounds (except here in Queensland and other tropical areas), preferring to nest underground and in trees and stumps.

The Termite Colony

In a termite nest you will find:

  • A king and a queen – they start off the colony and breed and care for the young until they have enough workers.
  • Workers – this is the largest group in the colony, and they do everything except defend the colony and reproduce.  They forage for food – ie, eat the wood of your home. They also excavate and care for the other termites.
  • Defenders – as their name suggests, their role is to defend the colony, and may have larger jaws and produce sticky fluids to help them do this.
  • Flying termites – these are the winged reproductive termites that swarm out of the nest and head off to make new colonies.
termite damage to pool deck Brisbane northside

Signs of Termites

Termites are sneaky, quiet and hardworking – in fact termites can stay awake 24/7 for up to two years! So how do you know if you have a problem?  Things to looks out for include:

  1. Flying termites – they often appear at night and are attracted to lights.
  2. Discarded wings – little piles of wings as they are shed and new colonies started.
  3. Hollow wood – a dead giveaway is when that windowsill starts to crumble in your fingers.
  4. Frass – this is little piles of what looks like sand but is actually termite poo!
  5. Mud tubes – you may see these going up poles and walls as they make their way from the ground to the wood.
  6. Chewing noises and head banging – if it is quiet enough and they are close enough, you may even hear them eating your house …
  7. Tight fitting windows and doors – this will let you know that the wood is buckling and is damaged, potentially by termites.

Termites cause billions of dollars of damage and eat thousands of kilograms of wood every year, so if you suspect your home may be under attack – call us on 0418 564 334. We take termites very seriously and aim to be at your property within 24 hours, to provide you with expert advice and treatment to protect your most valuable asset – your home.

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