What Do Termites Look Like?

How to identify termites.

Do you think that you have found termites? Learn how to identify termites in Australia.

What do termites look like?

Many people confuse termites with ants. This is understandable as they are quite similar in appearance, both having a slender body and six legs. However, they are two different species with very different behaviour, biology and habitat.

Termites 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. Hence why termites have the nickname of “white ants”.

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.

This means that should you find some bugs around your place that look like little white ants, they are generally termites.

Why are termites such pests?

Termites are pests when they encounter the human environment. In their natural environment, they play a very important role in the ecosystem as decomposers of plant waste. The reason why they can cause such significant damage to a house is due to the size of their colonies. Each colony can have thousands to millions of individual termites. They equally love dark, damp spaces and won’t expose themselves to sunlight. The combination of these two things creates a deadly impact for a house when termites move in. As they can stay hidden for a long time behind walls, under flooring and other areas before you find evidence of their presence.

The impact of termites is made worse by the fact that termite damage generally is not covered by home insurance. This means homeowners feel the pain of termites twice over as they are responsible for paying for repairs. Which can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage. That’s why it is so important to have annual timber pest (termite) inspection by a licensed pest inspector who knows what to look for.

Signs of termites in your home

Although termites are very elusive and are often hard to find, they do leave some signs of their presence behind. In addition to getting a licensed professional to check your home, there are a few things you can look out for which indicate termite activity. Such as:

  • Strange mud tacks and mudding around the property (see picture below)
    • Termites build mud nests and tunnels as they move between a food source and the main nest which can often be found outside the house. If you do happen to see them inside, it is likely that a major damage has occurred by this stage.
  • Sagging or ‘bubbling paint’
    • Termites do not eat paint but they do eat the timber behind the paint. In fact, they can eat the whole piece of timber right down to the paint and still leave the paint intact with nothing behind it. This can cause a piece of timber (like a skirting board) to appear like it has sagging or bubbling paint.
  • Hollow-sounding wood or damaged wood
    • Termites eat timber from the inside out, meaning that as it gets eaten, the timber becomes hollow. If you tap on this wood, it will have a distinct hollow sound.
  • Clicking sounds in the walls
    • Clicking noises can sometimes be heard from walls when there is a large collection of termites. This noise is most often audible when there’s a moderate to severe infestation.


Treatment for termites

If you do have termites at your home, there are few treatment options. Each treatment option depends on the severity of the termite invasion and the likelihood for future invasions. These treatment options for termites include:

  • Spot treatment – a slow-acting chemical is sprayed onto live termites to take back to their nest to kill off the whole colony. Multiple treatments are sometimes needed for severe infestations.
  • Chemical termite barrier – a slow-acting chemical is installed around the entire perimeter of the house to protect against subterranean termites for up to 8 years.
  • Termite bait stations – bait stations filled with treated timber are installed at intervals around the perimeter of the property. This isn’t as reliable as a chemical barrier but is recommended when a house isn’t situated in such a way that a chemical barrier can’t be installed.
  • Annual timber pest inspection – whilst it’s not a treatment option as such an annual timber pest inspection ensures that any termite activity is detected early.

The cost for termite damage repair will vary on a case-by-case basis. As it depends on the location and severity of the damage and the complexity of repairs. Licensed carpenters generally conduct termite damage repair work.

How to reduce the risk of a termite infestation in your home

Unfortunately, there is nothing currently available on the market which guarantees 100% protection against termites. However, there are a few things you can do around your house to minimise the chance of termites. These include:

  • Repair any leaking gutters, downpipes, taps or other plumbing around the property as termites love damp areas
  • Ensure there is no timber or wooden debris lying up against the house or around the yard
  • Ensure water tanks, down pipes and air conditioning overflows divert properly to a drain
  • Cut back any branches that overhang your roof as termites can use these branches to enter your home through the roof
  • Locate or relocate mulch and garden beds away from alongside the house, if possible
  • Repair any timber fungal decay around the property and previous termite damage as termites can use old termite tracks to gain entry


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.

Have peace of mind with Dedant

If you think you might have termites in your home, call us now! At Dedant, we provide thorough termite inspections, effective termite treatment and prevention solutions. We have been servicing Brisbane, Redland Bay, Moreton Bay, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Logan since 2009. Contact us on 07 3807 0122 or via our website.


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