Termites and Termite Control - How To Stop Problem Jobs From Becoming Nightmares
by: Bruce Gow

Termites have a very useful role within our environment, but when they invade and attack your home, they can become a hated enemy, a source of heartache and anxiety. Every problem has a solution, and there is no need for any job turning into a nightmare. There are however, certain practices in the pest control industry that should be adopted for all Inspection and treatments, and some "dodgy" operators that should be avoided like the plague!

In Australia, one house in three at some stage will become affected by termites, which is more prevalent than damage caused by fire, storm and flood combined. This article will examine how to prevent termite attack, methods of inspection, protection, control and treatment.

Termite Control

Control of pest termites involves identifying the species, locating the nest and choosing the best eradication methods. A combination of doing regular, competent building Inspection in termite-prone areas, using naturally resistant or treated timbers in buildings, and installing chemical and physical soil barriers around buildings is necessary to prevent further problems.

Houses nearby may often have termite nests nearby in trees, stumps and underground but these may not contain pest species. When they do, it should be the main focus of the termite control technician to locate and treat these areas before any protection is implemented. Too often the technician will "advise" the worried homeowner that termites may be "anywhere within 100 metres" of the property and its impossible to pinpoint exactly where they may be coming from.

In my opinion, if you don't even try to find out the origin of the problem, your chances of gaining control of the problem dramatically drop. Even if the house is surrounded by dense bushland, I think it is definitely worth the time and expense of test drilling and treating ALL trees and stumps surrounding the property within a 50-100 metre radius, because that is where most infestations originate. If it means drilling 40-60 trees or investigating all surrounding homes, isn't that a lot better than ignoring a possible source of infestation?

Most pest control companies will not go to this extra effort, and will try to convince the client that their baiting technique or soil barrier system is designed to protect your home in all circumstances. DON'T BELIEVE THEM! Better investigations and Inspection lead to better termite protection and treatments. Its only common sense to take all efforts to find out the origin of the attack.

Termite Inspection of Pest Species

Termite identification in Sydney Australia is highly specialized and pest controllers need to thoroughly inspect all areas of the property before any protection or treatment is begun. This may be conducted with the following equipment:

Flashlight with bright light
This is essential and krypton bulbs give the best light for torches generally available today. LED torches, headlamps and flashlights are the next generation inspection tools and should be used when they come onto the market.

A termite sounding donger
A fiberglass rod with a small plastic ball at the end. It is designed to run along skirting boards, higher placed timbers and other exposed timbers. When it runs across termite infested timber the tone changes, indicating hollowed out timber.

A Moisture Meter
It is designed to pick up high moisture content in walls and timbers. Termites bring up moisture from the soil and into the walls and timbers.

A Termatrac microwave tracking device
Termatrac is a breakthrough development in the building inspection detection of termites, invented and developed in Australia using technology similar to radar, Termatrac is the exciting answer to detecting termites through timber, plaster board, brick or masonry with no interference to the building material or termite activity. With no drilling, tapping or prodding, Termatrac is the answer to termite detection without termite defection! With Termatrac, the pest professional enjoys the advantage of accurate detection and customer peace of mind.

Pen Knife & Tape
If termite infested timber is located, we may cut it with a pen knife and expose the interior of timber, identifying the species of termites then seal it back up with tape so as not to disturb the termites.

Listening Device
This listens to termite sounds in the internal of the walls. However, if you tap the wall with your hand and put your ear up to the wall you can hear the soldier termites communicate by tapping their mandibles onto the timbers.

Home Inspection

A home inspection for termites is known in Sydney Australia as a building inspection and includes a pest report and a building report. It involves a thorough visual inspection of the sub floor, roof void interior, exterior, and other areas of the property. An average house takes anywhere from one to two hours to complete. Cost varies from $160-$360 depending on the size of the house and access. This is including G.S.T. Tax

The report consists of multiple pages setting out the areas of concern and what to do to rectify problems. Digital photos are available upon request. Please remember a termite inspection report is designed to detect termites at an early stage as to reduce the amount of damage to your house. It does not stop termites. It is strongly recommended a termite inspection report is carried out at least once every twelve months and every three to six months for high risk areas.

Note: There is no household insurance that covers you for termite damage.

Termite Report

Essentially a termite building inspection report is designed to:

  1. Detect old damage and active termites.
  2. Gives you the element of risk of infestation.
  3. Gives you tips on reducing the chances of termite infestation.
  4. Gives us enough information to accurately quote you on a termite treatment and to use the most appropriate method.
  5. Identifies species of termites and (most importantly)
  6. Educates you about termites.

Economically Important Pest Termites

Out of the 258 described termite species in Australia, only a few timber-damaging species are of concern to us. The five families that include the most common pest species are:

  1. Mastotermitidae (1 pest species - Giant Termite, Mastrotermes darwinensis)
  2. Kalotermitidae (several pest species of 'dry-wood termites', including the introduced Cryptotermes brevis)
  3. Termopsidae (1 pest species - Dampwood termite, Porotermes adamsoni)
  4. Rhinotermitidae (7 pest species, including Coptotermes acinaciformes)
  5. Termitidae (5 pest species, including Nasutitermes walkeri)

The Giant Termite (Mastotermes darwinensis) has the greatest potential for destruction. However, it is limited to the tropical areas of northern Australia. It attacks any wood in contact with the ground including shrubs and trees, as well as paper, leather, clothing and other materials. It is a large-bodied primitive species that usually forms small colonies and has no true worker caste.


West Indian Dry-wood Termite

The introduced West Indian Dry-wood Termite (Cryptotermes brevis) is considered to be the world's worst termite pest as it can eat even very small timber objects with few external signs of damage, can quickly take over from native termite species, can survive in quite dry conditions, and is easily transported. If it is found, it should be reported to the relevant government authority. It has been found in Brisbane and Sydney, as well as other areas on several occasions.

Most Destructive Species

However the most destructive species overall in Australia is Coptotermes acinaciformes. It is distributed throughout the continent and uses tree stumps, living trees, spaces under buildings and even walls as nesting sites. From the nest site, any wooden structure within a 100-metre radius can be attacked via underground tunnels. Although they usually need contact with soil, some nests of this termite species have even been found several floors up in city buildings or on ferries.

A common species that nests in Sydney's coastal bushland is Nasutitermes walkeri. It forms distinctive round ball-shaped nests that are especially abundant in the years following major bushfires (as it mainly nests in stressed trees). It can also damage fences, poles and wood on the ground, but it rarely attacks buildings. This species has the largest soldiers (up to 6 mm long) of the Nasutitermes genus, with the characteristic nasute head.

High Risk Suburbs

Termite control in Sydney, Australia is particularly important in these high risk suburbs:

  • Castle Hill
  • Winston Hills
  • Dural
  • Baulkham Hills
  • Wahroonga
  • Frenchs Forest
  • Manly
  • Epping
  • Carlingford
  • Leichhardt

We service all these areas as well as the Australian capital cities -Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Darwin.


Remember, if you follow all of the advice in this article, selecting a qualified Termite Expert who is aware of, and implements appropriate termite Inspection, protection and treatments will help prevent a problem job from turning into a nightmare.

You can arrange for a comprehensive inspection by a qualified Termite Expert simply by emailing our office at info@termiteexperts.com.au or Phone: 1300 131 449 for more termite (white-ant) information, to book a termite inspection with one of our members, or to arrange a quote for treatment of termites.

About The Author

Article written by Bruce Gow. Bruce holds Certificate 1V in Urban Pest Management and holds Termite Specialist Accreditation amongst many other pest control certifications. He owned and managed Best Pest Control (NSW) Pty Ltd www.bestpest.com.au, a successful termite and pest control firm for 24 years, and now acts as an internet consultant for the new owner.

** Webmasters - Please feel free to use this article for your own use - as long as you provide a link back to us at www.termiteexperts.com.au and do not change any information unless you advise us at bruce@searchengine-guy.com.au - this article is otherwise subject to normal copyright legislation.

Footnote: Bruce is a search engine marketer and does search engine optimization at www.searchengine-guy.com.au

Different types of termites

Termites have thrived on our planet for the past 250 million years. Technically, there are three major types of terrestrial termites that live in the United States: drywood; subterranean (ground); and Formosan. By far, the two most prevalent types of termites are the ground and drywood species. All types of termites survive by ingesting cellulose, found in wood and wood products. Termites live within highly organized social colonies much like their biggest adversary, the ant.

Drywood termites
prefer to live above the soil, taking up residence in wood structures such as trees, houses and even furniture. Once established, a colony of wood-inhabiting termites can slowly weaken a wooden structure, but the visible evidence of damage may not be noticeable for at least two years.

Ground termites
dwell within the soil, tunneling up to the surface in a complex system that allows the termites access to nearby food sources of wood. Members of the colony can fan out as far as 130 feet (39.6m) from the main living area to forage for food. Ground termites are voracious eaters; certain species are known to eat as much as 15 pounds (6.8kg) of wood each week! Pest control experts attribute 95% of the yearly damage done by termites in the United States to the soil tunneling type of termite.

Formosan termites (Coptotermes formosanus)
are relative newcomers to United States. Also a subterranean type of termite, this species that originated in East Asia, has become a threat to property and forests throughout a dozen southern states. Brought to this country in supplies returned to U.S. military bases after WWII, this species was not identified as separate from indigenous ground termites until the 1960s. Since 1998, southern states have embarked upon an aggressive program to eradicate the pest.

Evidence of a termite infestation includes finding "droppings," sand-like grains in the case of drywood termites, or "tubes," tunnel-like pathways leading from the ground to a wood source in the case of ground termites. In the spring, swarms may also indicate the presence of termites as they attempt to form a new colony during their winged stage. The elimination of termite colonies includes preventative measures such as education, building with treated wood, and completely sealing wooden structures. If an infestation is well established, the application of chemicals is required for eradication.

All types of termites maintain highly structured social orders. The colonies consist of workers, soldiers, winged termites, and king and queen termites. Worker termites are responsible for the care of the young and the construction and maintenance of the colony. Soldier termites' only function is to defend the colony from intruders, primarily ants. Winged termites, also known as reproductives, act as secondary offspring producers to the queen once the colony grows larger than the queen can supply. Both a king and queen are necessary to form a new colony; they assist each other in finding a new location and in producing the population of a termite colony.

While some estimates of the ravages of termite infestations within the United States are as high as 3 billion dollars a year, all types of termites provide considerable ecological benefits to the land. Termites provide sustenance and shelter for myriad types of life forms as they break down dead and dying trees, and they help aerate the soil for regeneration and future growth.

How to get rid of termites

Termites can destroy structural framing in short order. Learn the signs of infestation, inspect every year or two and consult a professional to confirm your suspicions. Above all, be persistent--your enemy is!

Make a thorough inspection


  1. In warm months, you may spot dry-wood termites when they swarm and come out of hidden infested areas.
  2. Look for structural wood damage at the first-floor level, especially where the foundation meets the walls and below exterior doors. First search carefully with a flashlight. The damage may not be visible, so thump the wood with the heel of a large screwdriver and probe with a heavy-duty awl in search of hollowed-out wood.
  3. Look for very small tan, reddish-brown or black droppings.
  4. Inspect the foundation walls inside and out in search of mud tubes. Subterranean termites live in the soil and close to a moisture source but feed on structural wood members, which they access by building mud passageways extending from the soil to the wood.

Confirm your suspicions


  1. If you find a problem (or enough evidence to suspect one), call a professional to confirm your suspicions and discuss options for elimination, control, prevention, treating existing wood and making repairs using naturally termite-resistant or treated lumber.

Work on prevention yourself


  1. Repair any water leaks or dripping outside faucets.
  2. Control roof water by correcting gutter problems.
  3. Correct grading and other drainage problems near the foundation.
  4. Remove or elevate all wood in direct contact with soil, such as a stack of firewood.
  5. Inspect, repair or cover all foundation vents with insect screening.
  6. Caulk your home's exterior to fill all cracks, especially between the foundation and house walls.

Overall Tips:

  • Call in the pros for treatment and structural repairs.
  • Replace white light bulbs, which attract insects, with yellow or pale-amber ones in your outdoor fixtures.
  • Although any treatment should last about five years, provided there are no untreated gaps in the chemical barrier, Inspection every two years are recommended.

Overall Warnings:

  • Know your enemy. Learn about insect behavior, their eating and nesting habits, and the signs of their presence.

Who Can Help You With This?
Echo Home Inspection recommends:

Terminator2 Pest Control, Inc.

you can reach them at 847-428-8100
tell them Echo Home Inspection sent you!!