Termites are one of Australia’s most common destructive pests. These live in colonies and breed rapidly, causing expensive damage to the property. Over 100,000 Australian properties suffer from termite attacks every year. The worst part is most home insurance policies don’t cover damages caused by these pests.
Termite infestation, if left untreated, can pose a risk to your home and family. Homeowners looking for ways to permanently eliminate pests from their homes can use this comprehensive guide that details how to identify termites and address an infestation, as well as how to prevent one in the future.
How to Identify Termite Infestation
Mud tubes – Subterranean termites use mud tubes to connect wood, mud and food source, making a colony of their own. Mud tubes are thin brown tracks built from soil running along flat surfaces. These can be seen around the foundations of your house, wall edges and posts, thus protecting them from light and ants and helping termites to travel back safely to their colonies.
Discarded Wings – Before termites venture into beginning a new colony, they collectively shed their wings. Check if you have wings piled up around window sills or doorways in your home since it’s a sign that infestation is about to start.
Damaged wood – Wood damages can occur in two forms: visibly eroded or hollow sound when tapped. Drywood termites can create small holes and bore into wood, using cellulose as a food source, thus making it visibly eroded. Door or window frames, baseboards, windowsills, or flooring are commonly affected areas. Termites can also eat away the wood’s interior. A hollow sound or light thunder upon knocking wood indicates the damage.
Droppings / Frass – Termite droppings, small granular oval pallets, are usually found near wooden structures, including door frames, baseboards, and windowsills. Frass presence indicates that the drywood termites are eating the wooden structures of your home and eroding them.
Peeling paint – When termites damage drywall, they allow moisture to enter the gap between the surface and the paint, resulting in bubbling or peeling paint surfaces.
Types of Termites (White Ants) and How to Get Rid of Them
Subterranean termites breed in foundational wood, soil, and compost piles near your house. These are more destructive than drywood termites because of their saw-toothed jaws. These are a ⅛-⅜ inch long, narrow in shape, and their colour depends on their “caste.” Subterranean termites are much larger in number than drywood termites ranging from 100,000 to 1 million members.
DIY methods to get rid of subterranean termites:
Termite Baits – This is a scientifically proven method to destroy termites. A perimeter that must be put under the house, termite baits lure in unsuspecting termites who carry poison back to the colony as a food source. Most bait stations work by killing these insects during the moulting process, i.e. even if one gets infected; it will spread like wildfire to others.
Insecticides – Termite foams like Termidor are an effective way to reach cracks and crevices where termites hide. Odourless and poisonous, these can be sprayed inside your home. On foaming, it fills the area before evaporating, leaving behind a chemical residue of insecticide that kills termites upon contact.
Other effective methods to eliminate subterranean termites include nematodes and liquid termiticides such as fipronil and imidacloprid.
Drywood termites grow exclusively in wood and are usually found along warm coastal areas. Their size ranges from ⅛-½ inches and spans the colour spectrum from deep yellow to light brown. Winged drywood termites live in small colonies of up to 2500 members.
DIY methods to get rid of drywood termites:
Essential oils – Drywood termites are not immune to essential oils like orange, neem, lavender, and rosemary; thus, it is the best organic insecticide for minor termite issues. It can slowly prevent and eliminate termites from reproducing or shedding their skin. To create a treatment, mix 2 cups of water, a few drops of dish soap, and 9 to 12 drops of any oil of your choice. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, shake it well and spray it on the infested area.
Spot treatment – Drill the holes in the infested area, roughly 10 inches apart, until your drill or the screwdriver comes in contact with the nest. Then spray the termiticide or other chemicals, and finally cover it up. This method is ideal for finished or painted wood, not high-quality hardwoods.
You can also try boric acid, but you must use it cautiously as it can harm children and animals if ingested.
How to Prevent Future Termites
Minimize moisture: Keep your home dry and leak-free to prevent subterranean termites from breeding. Ensure regular checking for dripping taps, leaking downpipes, and poor drainage, especially the roof and air conditioner.
Keep pipes and gutters dirt-free: Without regular maintenance, pipes and gutters can generate a damp environment. Warm, dark, moist areas provide a perfect breeding place for termites. Keep pipes and gutters clean to prevent them from settling in.
Seal gaps and cracks: Termites can enter your home through cracks and gaps in the foundation or walls. To prevent this, it’s important to seal any cracks or gaps with caulk or expanding foam.
Remove any extra wood around your home: Don’t stack firewood or tree stumps near your house, deck, crawl space or porch. It can be a starting point for termite infestation. Try to build outdoor wooden structures with termite-resistant wood.
Install ant caps: Ant caps are metal sheets installed in the sub-flooring of a house. Although they don’t prevent termite infestation, they make them more visible upon inspection.
Schedule regular termite inspections: Even after you’ve taken steps to eliminate termites, monitoring the area for any signs of a new infestation is important. If you notice any new termite activity, immediately schedule an inspection with a professional pest control company.
Melbourne termites are a severe problem as they cause costly structural damage. After implementing all these DIY hacks, contact a reliable and safe pest control service provider if the termite infestation continues. Ensure that they offer eco-friendly pest control treatments, are a local service provider, and their termite treatment cost is affordable with top-quality products.