The word "Termites" can strike fear in any home owners heart! If they attack your home, they can be devastating, causing thousands of dollars of damage. Yet many home owners either do not know about Termites, or have a lot of misinformation about termites.
Termites are insects that belong to the order of Isoptera.
Termites are quite often incorrectly referred to as white ants, but aside from their social habits of living in colonies, they do not resemble true ants.
In fact their closest insect relative is the cockroach.
There are approximately 2800 species of termites in the world. Of which, there are 300 species in Australia.
Most Termites in Australia do not damage homes, instead they forage around bush land breaking down fallen trees, and feeding on grasses. In fact there are only about 20 - 25 Termite species Australia wide of any economic significance.
The below information is for the more common termites in the Subterranean family.
Termites live in colonies, and depending on the species, can range in numbers from a few hundred to a few million.
When a colony becomes large enough, winged reproductive's, called alates, will take flight in search of a mate and suitable nesting sight. These 'colonising flights' take place normally on warm humid days, frequently before a storm in the months of November - December and March - April.
By flighting at times of high humidity, the soft bodied alates can avoid desiccation.
Upon flighting from her original colony as an Alate, the queen will set up a new colony with the King.
They will lose their wings that allowed them to fly and find a suitable nesting site. The main purpose of the King and Queen now is obviously reproduction.
During the developmental stages of the new colony both king and queen tend to the young.
This queen will often live up to 20 years, and is fertilised by the King periodically over this time.
Soldiers are the colonies defenders. They protect the colony from predators, such as ants and other insects.
Soldiers are normally darker in colour to other termites in the colony, and normally have a larger and different shaped head.
In different species, the way a soldier will protect the colony varies.
Some termites such as the Coptotermes species has a mandibulate head, where the jaws are well developed and can grab and hold on. In Nasutitermes species, the head is long and drawn out, they spit a sticky saliva solution to immobilise their predators.
In the more primitive Kalotermitidae species, soldiers have very strong heads, which they simply block entry holes to the colony when under attack. Soldiers are made up of females and males, but their organs for reproduction are not developed and are therefore sterile.
The worker is usually the most plentiful in the nest. It forages for the food, and is the caste responsible for damaging timber. The worker attacks the cellulose product and returns to the colony to feed the queen and the soldiers. The workers tend to the young and also repair any damage done to the nest.
Usually a browny white colour, workers are blind, and, like soldiers, they comprise of male and females but are also sterile.
Subterranean termites require moisture to survive. They keep their colony at about 96% to 98% humidity.
They are a soft bodied insect, with a thin cuticle, so if they are exposed to air for any period of time they will desiccate.
The termites most commonly encountered in Perth are the Coptotermes specie and Nasutitermes specie.
These termites feed on anything containing cellulose, which includes timber, paper products, carpets etc.
If you find termites in your home or garden
DO NOT DISTURB THEM.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TREAT THEM YOURSELF
DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED TO ACCEPT COSTLY QUOTES
Termites will move quickly once disturbed. By trying to treat them yourself, it can make professional treatments less effective.
Dont panic, call Joondalup Pest Control for an obligation free quote. We will come out to you and discuss possible options.