Termite Information

At Australian Pest Specialists our mission is to deliver Australia’s best value in Termite Control. You’ll receive written specifications, customised diagrams and a Termite Control inspection report after your consultation. Australian Pest Specialists also backs its termite control treatments. So much so, that if we complete a full termite barrier to the perimeter of your home, we will issue a 100% Termite Barrier Guarantee*. This unique Termite Guarantee ensures that you have absolute peace of mind making you feel Safe & Secure from these destructive pests.

It’s your greatest investment so you know better than anyone that your home is worth protecting. If you’re looking for termite pest control solutions in Australia, look no further. Australian Pest Specialists has a wealth of experience – over 30 years – in the remediation of termite infested properties.

Australian Pest Specialists are trusted and proven experts in Termite Control and Management l with over 20 years experience. For a free consultation visit and full written report including recommendations, please call one of our friendly team on 1300 42 42 66

Termite Information

Although referred to as “white ants”, termites are more closely related to cockroaches. They have a well ordered social system with amazing engineering capabilities and acute survival instincts. Apart from their habit of living in colonies, their resemblance to ants is purely superficial. There are over 1900 identified species of termites of which 350 occur in Australia and 30 species in particular are economically significant as timber pests.

Many people think that termites only attack timber. However, a CSIRO study showed that steel framed and brick structures are as vulnerable to termite attacks as their wooden counterparts. This is because the termites will attack other cellulose based materials used in these constructions such as window frames, timber doors and skirting boards.

Termite colonies vary from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands or even millions. Some species build mounds, some nest underground and some live in small colonies while other colonies will nest in the wood of trees.

As they forage for food below the soil, they sometimes by chance will gain access to your home from the sub floor area, the slab’s edge or even timber structures that are attached to the house. This is why it is important to not only have a termite inspection done when you move into a new house, but also have an inspection done at least every six to twelve months to make sure their property is termite free.

To reduce the risk of a termite attack keep the edges of the house clear of clutter, remove all timber from the subfloor area that is contact with the soil and don’t forget that termites sometimes find perfect hiding places in garden beds and vegetation.

While home owners can inspect houses themselves if they can identify termite activity, it is important to get a trained professional to do it at least once or twice a year. This will ensure that you haven’t missed anything.

If you do find any termite activity in or around your house, don’t disturb them. You may cause them to spread further because chances are that you won’t eradicate them completely. It is important that you call the professionals to deal safely and securely with them.

Termites Can Be Grouped Into:

Dampwood termites which live in moist, rotting timber Drywood termites which have no need for soil contact, obtaining moisture from timber Subterranean termites which are primarily responsible for building damage Australia-wide are ground dwelling, and require contact with soil or a constant source of moisture Within a termite colony there are several forms (castes); namely a queen, king, workers, soldiers, and periodically, reproductives. Each caste is structurally different with specific functions to perform for the colony’s survival and maintenance.

The Queen & King

They are the original winged reproductives (alates) which left the parent colony during the colonising flight. They then shed their wings to seek out a suitable nesting site, mate and establish a new colony. Their function in the colony is reproduction – the queen becomes an egg laying machine of over 1,000 eggs per day. Colonies of different species vary in size from hundreds of thousands to millions of individuals.

Both queen and king may live for over 25 years. As the queen ages, her reproductive capacity declines, and the colony may then select supplementary queens (neotenics) from the various developmental stages of reproductives to replace the queen and king.


These numerically dominate the colony since they perform all tasks including gathering food, tending the eggs and feeding the young, building the nest and galleries, repairing damage, and tending and feeding the queen with the exception of defence and reproduction. Workers are responsible for timber damage and construct earthen leads as they search for and excavate timber.

They are wingless, blind and sterile, and have thin cuticles or body covering making them susceptible to desiccation outside the colony. Older workers may predominate in activities outside the nest. Workers leave the security of the colony via underground tunnels and shelter tubes only when the humidity is high. In some species, larvae develop into workers or nymphs. These workers may then develop into soldiers and the nymphs may become alates. In other species, the worker caste remains as workers throughout their developmental stages.


In some species there is no true worker caste. The developing nymph moults until it reaches an advanced stage of growth and then does the work of the colony. At this stage it can continue to feed and moult without differentiation or moult to a pre-soldier and then soldier; moult to a reproductive nymph with wing buds and then to an alate or form reproductives in the same colony. Other species do not have such a versatile nymphal stage, but have distinct workers, soldiers and reproductives determined very early in their nymphal development.


The soldier caste is the easiest from which to identify the species. They tend to be abundant where there is a large central colony. Like workers, they are wingless, sterile and blind.

However, they are usually darker in colour and are distinguished from other castes by their heavily armoured and pigmented heads. Because their mandibles are so specialised, they must be fed by workers. Soldiers are also susceptible to desiccation and seldom leave the environmental security of the colony and shelter tubes.

The Colonising Flight

During the colonising flight fully winged reproductives leave the colony annually through “blow holes” or “flight cuts” when external temperature and humidity approximate conditions inside the colony, often before or after a storm usually in the warmer months of November and December.


Most termite species feed on leaves, bark, and grass, the attractiveness of which is improved by decay. Termites of economic importance eat cellulose, starches, and sugars obtained from wood. Contrary to popular belief, termites are fussy eaters. They do not attack all wood and the wood that is attacked is not attacked equally. Different timber species have varying resistance to termite attack due to the palatability of the timber, the presence of distasteful chemicals in the wood or the wood density which slows the speed at which termites can chew it Termites obtain their protein from fungi growing in or on wood in moist conditions, particularly where ventilation is poor and humidity is high.

Climate: Moisture & Temperature

Being susceptible to desiccation, termites require a continual supply of moisture and maintain their nests at nearly 100% humidity. They use moisture from the soil to maintain the colony’s humidity and evaporation to regulate its temperature between 25C and 36C, depending upon the species and prevailing weather conditions.

Subterranean termites can survive without soil contact, but must have an assured and constant moisture supply. Termites favour decaying wood in moist situations within which to establish colonies as it provides them with protein and moisture.

Termite Nests

Nests built by workers are often characteristic of the species, aiding in identification when considered with features of the soldier caste. Nests may be ground mounds of various shapes and sizes; tree or arboreal structures; subterranean colonies in the soil; or small colonies in dry wood, trunks and branches of trees. Species which have subterranean habits may nest inside living trees and dead stumps, under verandahs, or concrete slabs.

Ground Mounds

These may be of various shapes from tall upright mounds to more robust, smaller mounds to low dome-shaped mounds with an internal and external structure characteristic of the species. The outer layers protect the softer, often papery, inner central nursery area which houses the queen and developing nymphs. Mound-forming species attack timber in the ground by making tunnels through the soil radiating from the colony.

These have ground contact usually through the root crown of the tree. They are often large, occasionally attaining heights exceeding 20 meters. By subterranean tunnels and shelter tubes, they attack decaying weathered timber and may be capable of doing considerable damage in a very short time to buildings within at least 50 meter radius of the tree.

Subterranean Nests

Many species have colonies below ground surface created when building covers tree stumps, roots and waste timber providing decaying wood in a moist situation, often under verandahs and in-fill used under bathrooms.

Nests in Root Crowns and Trunks of Trees

Existence of these colonies is often very difficult to detect. However, these colonies may be capable of doing considerable damage within months to buildings within at least 50 meter radius of the tree.

Termites are grouped according to nesting behaviour

Single-site nesters e.g. Drywood and Dampwood termites cannot burrow through the soil and live their entire lives inside a single piece of wood.

Multi-site nesters e.g.Heterotermes sp, Schedorhinotermes sp andMicrocerotermes sp burrow through soil to find food. They may establish or bud off new nests if they locate a large food source.

Central-site nesters e.g. Coptotermes sp also burrow through the soil, but they always transport food back to their original nest which is very large and complex.

Multi-site and in particular, central-site nesting termites show seasonal foraging patterns.

Foraging is greatest in warmer, summer months and least in cooler winter months Termites do not have a clearly delineated territory in which they operate. It is not unusual to find two colonies feeding in the same piece of timber due to colony overlap which explains why active termites may reoccur within previously infested galleries a few months after a colony has been eliminated.

Termites like to travel along predetermined tracks along environmental gradients; they prefer to traverse through damp or warm soil following clues from soil micro-organisms.

They randomly forage for a larger food source they can frequently return to.

Concealment is the primary way termites defend themselves because they have weak, soft exoskeletons and short legs. Termite mud tubes allow them to move safely between places.

Soldiers are the secondary defence mechanism of the colony, fending off invaders long enough for the workers to wall off the part of the colony being attacked, sacrificing soldiers in the process. Because of these weaknesses, termites normally avoid areas that are in constant use. In the case of most termite dust toxicants, the colony can detect the presence of the toxin and seal off that part of the colony, effectively sacrificing themselves so that the nest survives. This is why dust treatment often gives short term success with termites appearing again a few months later. When faced with a threat, termites send out a warning signal to the rest of the colony by convulsing, banging their heads and producing vibrations that the rest of the colony interprets as a signal to evacuate.

Out of all pests that enter your home the most unwanted is the Subterranean Termite. This species of termite causes the most structural damage to property resulting in economic loss.

If you suspect that you have termites contact Pest Prevention Specialists, the trusted and proven experts in Termite Management and Control for a free consultation visit and full written report including recommendations on 1300 42 42 66