Top Tips For Keeping Termites Away

Generally considered “eco-friendly” pests, termites are quite helpful when it comes to the environment. However, when they turn to attack homes, they can become an absolute nightmare to contend with.

Termites are small voracious creatures that have a solid appetite for wood. Known to finish off houses and wooden beams overnight, these winged insects can cause destruction and untold damage to structures if left alone.

There are a variety of termite species out there and each kind has a different taste when it comes to building nests or food. The three most common ones include:

  • Coptotermes

These are the most destructive species. Termites eat anything containing cellulose which is the sugar linked molecules of timber. Cellulose also appears in material such as animal skin. It is also present in paper, gyprock, cardboard and of course their favourite food which is the framework of a home. House timber frames are often made using fallen or processed trees. In nature, it is the termite’s job to recycle these fallen trees.

  • Nasutitermes

Although this species of termites only consume particular types of timber and hardwood, they nevertheless still wreak a lot of havoc. They build their nest underground but also build arboreal nests in, under or on tree stumps.

  • Schedorhinotermes

This species are almost as destructive as Coptotermes. Creating their nest on or in tree stumps and underground, they produce distinct damage which is usually patchy with random portions taken off the timber.

Tips to Prevent a Termite Infestation

Prevention is certainly better than looking for a cure so when dealing with termites, it’s best to prepare ahead of time than suffer the consequences.

Here are a few things to remember when prepping a home to prevent termite problems.

1. Termites love wood so eliminating possible food sources can help. Another thing to note is that they cannot survive without moisture so removing leaks and plumbing problems can greatly curtail the risk of a termite infestation.

2. Always ensure that there’s proper ventilation all over and under the home or building. Termites love to gather in humid or damp areas so making sure of this means there are less chances of calling for pest control companies to take care of the problem. Make sure to get a termite inspection annually by a qualified pest control technician. One that uses radar to look inside walls and determine if termites are present.
3. Regular termite inspections should always be conducted. This should be done by a professional company who knows what kind of signs to look for. New wall penetrating radar makes termite detection much easier.

4. Any type of stored timber should be raised on piers or bricks. Scrap timber items should be immediately removed from the property. Dead trees or plants will easily attract termites so it pays to clear them out. Never stack items against home walls. Termites love shadowy areas to construct their mud tubes in. They can also penetrate the mortar joints of brickwork within four days below ground level.

5. Termites live underground and they love it when wooden beams come in contact with the soil or ground. For home pest control, always make sure to leave at least 24 inches of space between wooden structures and the soil if possible. Homes with less clearances should have a chemical barrier installed in the soil thus barring termites from entering that area. Regular termite inspections should be carried out by a qualified technician

6. Think of termites as underground cows. They wander through the soil levels looking for cellulose (food), in the form of fallen timber or a house frame. Termites are blind so it would be very unusual to see them on the surface. Everything eats them. Birds, ants, lizards, they have many enemies. There can be up to a million termites in every termite nest which can be up to 100 metres away from the food source (the home). The nest can be under a house concrete slab, in a home wall or inside a thick tree trunk.

Understanding how termites live and feed can go a long way when it comes to taking the right steps to avoid termite infestations. If a home has a concrete slab and the brickwork has been covered by soil, pavers, concrete paths & gardens, then it is wide open to a termite infestation. A reliable termite barrier should be installed immediately.


Do You Need a Termite Inspection or Are Those Just Flying Ants?

winged termiteAre those termites or flying ants in your yard? Which one could that wing you found on the windowsill belong to? Did you even know ants could fly? It’s common for homeowners to confuse flying ants for termites or vice versa. Confirming which one it is that may be invading your property is important since termites are known to cause damages that could end up seriously costing you in repairs. Flying ants are generally just more of an annoyance. There are a few different ways of telling them apart and treatment methods for getting rid of both, but if you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to call for a professional termite inspection. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in a situation like this.

Distinguishing Body Characteristics

Once ants and termites hit their swarming stage and produce wings it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two black-bodied creatures with just a quick glance. However, studying the characteristics of three specific body parts should help you in determining the difference. If you’re able to get close enough, look to see if the antennae is straight or bent. The first will signify a termite and the latter an ant. Their wings also vary pretty distinctly. A termite’s wings will take on a long and narrow shape, be of equal lengths and lay parallel to the body. The wings on an ant are unequal in length, are positioned at an angle and the front set of wings are noticeably larger than the back ones. Lastly, you can identify a termite or ant by body shape. The waist of a termite is straight in accordance with the rest of its body, which is separated into two segments, while an ant’s body has three segments and a waist that is pinched in.

Swarming Mannerisms

Swarming is typical of termites that are ready to reproduce and find a new place to start a colony. However, flying ants will often nest then swarm as well and find their way inside a house, creating instant panic for a homeowner. Swarmers are looking for a place to quickly burrow into soil and take up residence as they can’t typically live for long periods of time in dry climates. Catching sight of a large amount of flying bugs should be a caution sign that you have some type of insect colony living nearby.

termite damageOther Signs of Termites

Although, they are usually hard to discover by actually seeing them, termites do leave other signs around that they’ve invaded a home. Mud tubes, droppings, discarded wings, sagging or curling floors and hollowed or buckling wood are all good indicators of a possible termite infestation. Uncovering any of these signs, along with viewing a swarm, means a termite inspection is in order right away.

While you shouldn’t automatically freak out when you see a swarm of termite look-alike winged insects because they could just be flying ants, keep in mind that scheduling an annual termite inspection is the only way for a homeowner to ever really be sure that they are free of any termite activity. It would be unfortunate to wait until there’s so much damage already done that it becomes visible to the naked eye and past the point of helpful treatment.

About the Author

Tiffany Olson is a full-time blogger who finds great joy in writing on topics such as pest control. She has personally dealt with rat and fly infestations and hopes that she never has to experience flying ants or termites!