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Common Termite Myths – Debunked!

 

We often see and hear so many false theories about termites, that we thought it about time to address some of the most common termite myths. You may have heard and trusted a few of these yourself.

 

1. Termites, or as they are often referred to in Australia-“White Ants” are a part of the ant family.

This is in fact, not true. The term ‘white ants’ is a misnomer. The only thing that termites really have in common with ants is that they operate in a caste system. In truth, they are much more closely related to cockroaches and are classified in the cockroach family. They exist as a suborder of the Blattodea order, which includes cockroaches. The famous Great Northern Termite, or Mastotermes gives us an idea of the resemblance to the cockroach family.

We can see from the Mastotermes Darwiniensis the physical similarities between cockroaches and termites.

 

2. When forests are leveled and trees are removed to make room for development, termites are destroyed or removed also.

Sub Terranean termites nest in tree stumps and in live trees. When termite colonies lose their food supply to developers, they can seek out new food sources – usually wood from newly built homes on the site.

3.  A brick house on a concrete slab is safe from termites.

In fact, virtually all homes have a wood frame, so no matter how the wood is separated from the soil, termites can work their way to it from the ground underneath. Similarly, a concrete slab does not eliminate wood-to-ground contact. Termites can construct tunnels through cracks in concrete.

 

Having said that though, we sometimes hear this one:

4. Termites can eat through concrete

This one is simply not true. What’s really happening is that termites are able to access even the tiniest cracks in the concrete, and as more and more of them pass through it (remember, a colony can have hundreds of thousands of termites in it), the crack can become a little larger. These original cracks are usually too small to be noticeable to us upon quick inspection, so it’s easy to see why someone might believe this one.

 

5. My house is built from Hardwood, so it is safe from termite attack.

Actually, the  Termite’s natural food is the gum tree, and  that is a hardwood. While there are a lot of hardwoods with natural resistance to termites, not all hardwood is resistant. Also any resistance is normally found in old growth timbers and may not apply to new growth timber.

Gum Trees such as the Eucalyptus are a termite's favourite food source, so assuming that your home is safe from termites because it is made of hardwood is a dangerous assumption to make.

 

 6.I have had a baiting system put around my home I now have a barrier that will keep termites out of my house.

Baiting systems certainly are an option you can use, and we install them ourselves. But in all honesty, they’re not our preferred method. They can, if the termites find them and take the bait back to the colony, be effective at wiping the colony out. But they’re not going to stop any termites found in your home.  Again, while we do use them for customers that request them (and in some instances, they are sufficient), we believe that a full chemical barrier treatment, such as the ones we install using Termidor, when installed correctly are the most efficient way of dealing with a termite problem.

 

7. My neighbour had termites and you did a treatment and now I have termites! You pushed them over to our home!

Termite colonies can be huge. Several houses in a neighbourhood may, indeed share a termite colony and treating one house among them, thereby making it off limits to the termites, can make them more active in the other infested homes. But you can’t cause a termite infestation in one house by treating another. Termites feeding at both House A and House B can be affected by bait brought into the colony from House A and activity suddenly dies off at the second home. But termites aren’t going to safely cross a chemical barrier (a poison to them) and then set up a colony in your home. That chemical is still going to do it’s job and kill them.

8. Termites serve no useful purpose. They are nothing but destructive pests.

Actually the truth is, termites are an incredibly useful and necessary part of our eco system. They provide a valuable service by breaking down dead wood in forests into soil. Termites were one of the earth’s first recyclers. Really, the only place you don’t want them is in your home.

9. “Twelve monthly termite control treatments are necessary to protect my home against termites.”

That’s not true. Today’s chemical termiticides last between 5 and 10 years. You won’t need to re-do your chemical treatment unless there is a breach in the system (for a chemical barrier to be effective, there needs to a complete line of checical termiticide around your home. If you renovate, wash away the treatment (Don’t panic though. Normal, even heavy rain is not going to wash away your termiticide. It would take, for example the severe Brisbane flooding of January 2011 to be enough to do that kind of damage, if at all) or anything similar, you will need to get that new area treated to keep an unbroken barrier around the property).  What you will need is a Termite Inspection every 12 months, to make sure there have been no breaches in the protective barrier around your home.

10. All termite companies are the same, so you may as well go with the cheapest.

Not true.  Different companies use different chemcials, and sometimes even different amounts of the same chemical. They may approach warranty situations differently, conduct check ups differently, or be watering down their solution. Termiticides, whichever you use, must always be used to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Shop around. Ask for testimonials. The best way to find out about a termite company is ideally, to speak to former customers, find out what they think of the service they’ve received. Or ask your friends who they have used, and whether they have been satisfied with their service.

 

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