Over the years, we have heard many myths about termites. For the most part, these myths are common misconceptions from homeowners about how termites operate, what they eat and the best method of treatment.
In this blog, we debunk the most common termite myths.
Myth 1: Termites are ants.
White ants are more commonly known as termites. As such, people assume that termites are simply a breed of ants.
White ants are not actually ants, nor are they even closely related to ants.
In fact, white ants don’t exist. Any white ants you see are termites.
The reason they are confused with ants is due to their appearance.
Termites (a.k.a white ants) have straight antenna, straight waists and 4 wings of equal length (reproductives). Typically, termites are shades of beige or brown. To the human eye, beige termites can appear to be white.
Meanwhile, ants have a bent antenna, a pinched waist, and wings of uneven length on either side. Ants are generally red or black, but ants that are native to Queensland can also be green.
Knowing the difference between a termite and an ant can help you spot a termite infestation in your home.
Myth 2: Steel framed houses make your home immune to termites.
One of the most common termite myths is that if you have a steel framed house, your home won’t be subject to a termite infestation.
While it is true that termites cannot eat steel frames, your home is likely to have wooden aspects such as window and door frames, furniture and wooden floorboards.
This means your home is still susceptible to termites as they can travel to these sources of wood and chew at them.
Myth 3: Termites only eat wood.
Many people believe that termites only eat wood. This is not true.
Termites chew on wood to get the cellulose, which is turned into glucose by the microbes inside of the termite.
Cellulose can also be found in paper, cardboard, plasterboard, cellophane, plasterboard, cotton, pulp furniture, wallpaper glue and more.
For this reason, termites will eat all these substances and more.
Myth 4: Termites can chew through concrete to get to the wood.
On the other hand, many people believe that termites can eat concrete.
This myth generally comes from people seeing termite mudding on concrete. Termite mudding is a sub-nest that termites build as they move to protect themselves from sunlight and predators.
When people see this mudding on concrete slabs or pillars they assume the termites have eaten through the concrete to get to the wooden fixtures inside the home.
Rather, termites have entered through pre-existing cracks and left their mudding trail behind.
Myth 5: Termites in your garden don’t matter.
Many homeowners believe that because termites are eating the wood in their garden, such as an old tree stump, they are content to stay there.
The logic here is that if termites already have a source of wood, they will not go looking elsewhere.
However, this is not the case.
A termite nest is ever-expanding with the queen producing thousands of eggs every day.
As the nest grows, so too does the number of termites to feed. As such, they will inevitably turn to the wood in your home.
If you see an old tree stump in your garden, you should remove it straight away.
The less wood near your house, the less attractive it is to termites.
Myth 6: Killing visible white ants is an effective termite treatment.
It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to see termites, spray any they can find with generic bug spray and then act as if the job is done.
In truth, it is not enough to just kill visible termites.
This is because if you see visible termites, a nest is most likely nearby.
Even if you kill 100 termites you can see, the queen (located at the heart of the nest) will still be producing thousands of termite eggs in a day.
Thus, the most effective termite treatments involve killing termites at the nest.
One commonly used termite treatment involves the use of a chemical called Termidor which slowly poisons termites over time as it spreads from termite to termite.
Eventually, it will reach the nest and wipe it out.
Myth 7: Termites cannot eat hardwood or chemically treated timber.
Another common termite myth is that termites will not or cannot eat hardwood or chemically treated timber.
This is another falsehood.
Where hardwood is concerned, there are some species of termites that will not eat hardwood.
However, many species of termites do eat hardwood. There are several termite breeds in Southeast Queensland that eat hardwood, such as nasutitermes, coptotermes and schedorhinotermes.
In fact, nasutitermes termites only eat hardwood.
Likewise, chemically treated timber is also not immune from termites.
While the outside of the treated wood is not attractive to termites, over time the wood becomes worn and damaged.
Once exposed, the inside of the wood is as vulnerable as any other type of wood.
As such, should not assume you’re safe from termites if your home has hardwood or chemically treated timber.