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Also referred to as White Ants, termites are a beneficial insect in the bush as they help in the breakdown of organic matter. A few species however, attack timber in service (in other words our homes), causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. There are over 350 species in Australia with about 30 capable of causing damage to timber in service.
Although often called white ants, termites are not related to ants at all. They are a soft bodied, primitive insect belonging to the order Blattodea (formally called Isoptera). They live in colonies with complex social orders, and different castes.
Your local Austrapest termite specialist will identify the species of termite involved.
The colony is made up of the Queen, the King, soldiers, workers and reproductive castes. The king and queen are the original reproductives. Having established a colony after an initial colonizing flight, they can live for many years. The workers maintain the colony, and are responsible for the damage we see in timber in service. The soldiers’ role is defense, and most species are identified by the soldier. Soldiers and workers stay in the security and humidity of the nest and mud workings.

Coptotermes spp worker termites

Coptotermes spp termites damage

Winged Ant
Wings are unequal in size and shape.
Antennae is elbowed.
Constriction between thorax and abdomen

Winged Termite
Wings are equal or similar.
Antennae is beadlike.
No constriction between the thorax and abdomen

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.

Austrapest and Kevmac together have been established in the Sydney Metropolitan since 1949, providing excellence in pest services.

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Postal Address: PO Box 186, Concord Rd Concord West, NSW 2138, Australia

Phone: 1300 030 040

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