Termites that cause damage to Australian homes are subterranean termites. There is another species of termites called drywood termites but generally they are not a threat.
Subterranean termites are small, soft bodied insects that build large nests in soil or trees and have underground tunnels that can reach up to 100 metres away from the nest. They cannot survive in the open.
Termites have great survival instincts and have existed for many millions of years with the most ancient species coexisting with the dinosaurs.
They are found in regions of mainland Australia both in suburban and country areas. There are over 300 species of Australian termites but not all are a threat to homes.
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Termites work underground and live in tunnels of mud mixed with their excreta and saliva. Their tunnels are built for the purpose exploring and finding food. In most areas of Australia, they will not build these tunnels out in the open as they must maintain a high humidity environment to survive. A dry termite is a dead termite and this is why you don’t see termites crawling around like ants.
A termite colony consists of the following:
Termites cause extensive damage to the structure of homes and commercial buildings, as well as timber fixtures, fittings and floor coverings. Unfortunately termite damage and the repair costs are not covered by home insurances.
What Are Termites Attracted To?
Termites are like humans, they can live quite a long time without food but will die very quickly without moisture.
That’s why they continually search in large numbers for moisture. They are much more attracted to a house where the soil is consistently moist. For example – leaking taps, air conditioning drainage or irrigated garden beds.
Termites are also attracted to concealed areas around the home where moisture is present such as cavity walls, under baths or bathroom cabinets, damp walls from leaking shower recesses and other wet areas.
A termite's sole food is cellulose (sugar molecules) which is found in trees, logs and plants. It is also still present in the timber used in construction. This is why timber wall and roof frames are susceptible to termite attack.
They also attack other materials in a house which include: