Everything you need to know about termites
Learn how to recognise, reduce the risk and prevent termites in your home with a reliable termite management system.
Termites in Queensland
Termites are small, wood eating pests that cause thousands of dollars in damage to homes across Queensland ever year.
While most areas of coastal Australia are at high risk of termite attacks, Queensland is a hotbed for these pests.
This is because of the natural conditions of Queensland, such as humidity, alternating periods of dry weather and stormy downpours, as well as the high number of trees. Queenslander style homes are especially at risk, given the amount of wood used in their construction. Thankfully, there are plenty of termite management systems available.
There are 10 native species of termites in Queensland and many more that have been introduced over time. Queensland is home to the largest and most aggressive species of termite, the mastotermes darwiniensis.
How to recognise termites
There are several tell-tale signs that your house has been stricken by a termite infestation.
- Easily damaged wood: The most obvious sign of termites can be when your foot goes through the wooden staircase.
- Trails of mud going up or around walls: Termites create pencil-sized tunnels out of soil and mud to protect themselves from predators and the environment.
- Piles of sawdust-type pellets around wood: This is not actual sawdust, but frass which is termite excrement.
- Discarded wings: Winged termites will fly around and look for places to start a colony, after which they discard their wings. Seeing these wings around your home is a sign of termite infestation
- Hollow sounding wood: Termites generally eat wood from the inside out. When you knock on wood and it sounds hollow, this is a sign of termite damage.
- Doors, walls and windows change shape: If your doors become sagged or windows become harder to open or paintwork is cracked, this is a sign that termite damage has warped your doors and windows.
If you see signs of termites, then damage has no doubt already been done. As such, it is always better to try and avoid a termite infestation before it happens.
How to reduce the risk of termites
There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of a termite attack around your home.
- Reduce the risk of moisture: Termites are attracted to moisture. If wood is damp, they will have an easier time eating it. As such, you should fix poor drainage, keep gutters clear, and leaky pipes and improve ventilation in areas where it is poor.
- Remove dead tree stumps: Decaying wood is attractive to termites. If you have a dead tree stump in your yard, remove it quickly.
- Reduce wood-to-ground contact: Remove wood, mulch, paper and cardboard away from the foundation of your home. If you’re creating a garden, place it away from your dwelling.
- Point sprinklers away from your foundation: Reduces moisture in at-risk areas.
- Get annual inspections: Through regular inspections from a licensed inspector, you will get expert check-ups to ensure your home is termite free
Another effective deterrent for termites is the Termite Management System.
Termite management systems
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) requires that all new homes must have termite management systems in place.
A termite management system comes in many different forms.
- Physical barrier: A physical barrier generally takes the form of a concrete slab. This prevents termites from getting a concealed entry into your home – to get in, they must make themselves visible.
- Chemical barrier: A chemical barrier is created through a moat-type ditch that is dug around a property, filled with chemicals and then covered over. These chemicals can do a variety of things, either deterring termites or slowly killing them and poisoning the nest over time
- Stainless steel mesh: A steel mesh is placed under the slab and around the perimeter of the property.
- Graded stone: A layer of graded stone is placed below the foundation and around the perimeter of the property
- Termite resistant materials: Using materials such as treated timber, steel, concrete, reinforced cement and masonry in construction can protect from termites, as these are termite resistant.
Termite Management Systems are your best bet to protect your home, however it is important to have a durable notice.
What is a durable notice for my termite management system?
A durable notice is a record of the termite management system that is permanently and prominently displayed in the home. Generally, this can be found as a sticker in the meter box.
The durable notice indicates the following:
- The termite management system which is used
- The date of installation of the system
- What chemical was used and where, and the life expectancy of the chemical
- The installer/manufacturers recommendations regarding future inspections
Who should install the termite management system?
Not just anyone can install termite management systems – it requires a qualified pest technician.
The average cost of termite treatment in Queensland is around $2000 – $4000.
When researching which expert to choose from, you should take the following steps:
- Research: Investigate different companies, the services they offer and check the reviews of their services and see if they have an FAQ page.
- Contact them: Once you have a list of options, call the business and ask questions such as how long they’ve been around and what training they have. You can also ask for details about the inspection itself and what products are used.
- Compare them: Once you are satisfied that you have conducted enough research, compare your options and choose the one you are most comfortable with.
Through these steps, you can hire someone qualified to both install your termite management system and conduct inspections.
As stated above, regular termite inspections are a necessary step to prevent and reduce the risk of a termite infestation.
An inspection can cost you as little as $250 depending on the size of the property.
Generally, it is recommended you get a pest inspection once annually, but if you live in a high-risk area you might be advised to get an inspection more often.
Inspectors will check the following aspects of the home:
- All accessible rooms inside the home
- All accessible spaces under the home
- Timber around, in and under the home
- The garden
- Trees and tree stumps
- Any structure within 30m of the property
- If any termite damage was found
- The existence of a previous termite management plan
You will receive recommendations on further investigations and repairs that may need to be done. A report will be given to you detailing the findings of the inspection.
Have you found termites? Don’t disturb them!
If you think you might have termites, it’s very important not to disturb them! Termites are shy, elusive creatures that will find a new hiding spot when exposed. If you have accidentally exposed them, cover them back up and call a licensed pest inspector as soon as you can. They will be able to treat the termites and provide you with recommendations for prevention.