Biology and Habitats
Winged reproductives (alates) can often be seen on their colonising flight in mid summer evenings when humidity is high, often before a storm. The trained eye can see them swarming from a "blow hole" in a tree trunk or stump, walls, roof and many other areas.
The nest site depends on the species. Some - e.g. Nasutitermes walkeri, will have an arboreal section to their nest in the tops of trees. Others e.g. Coptotermes acinaciformis, the most destructive species in New South Wales, can have hundreds of thousands – to millions of individuals, and nest in a subterranean colony, in tree stumps and root systems, or in old building materials left under houses or anywhere else in a building.
In Sydney, Coptotermes and Shedorhinotermes are the local and most destructive species. These termite species have been found to cause extensive damage throughout the North Shore, Inner West, Hill District, even the City suburbs and in fact throughout Metropolitan Sydney
Termites feed on the cellulose in wood. If wood has been broken down by fungal decay, it appears
to be even more attractive to termites (the protein in the fungus is a second source of food).
Termites make mud tunnels and packing around their workings, they excavate the wood leaving a thin outside layer of wood or paint to maintain humidity inside.
They love damp, dark and undisturbed conditions. The subfloor areas of many Sydney homes provide the ideal environment - the house provides the food!
Subterranean pest species may travel in a radius of 50m or more from their colony to their food source.
Regular six monthly to yearly inspections are imperative for early detection of timber pest infestation and minimising the need for chemical application.