4 uncommon things you need to know about termites

If you’re a property owner, you’re probably concerned about the risk of termites damaging your property. You may already know the common signs to look out for if you suspect a termite invasion, but here’s some other information on termites you need to know to protect your home from potential damage. 

  • How do I know if there are baby termites on my property? 

We are all familiar with the regular looking termites and the winged phase when they swarm. But do you know how to identify baby termites? There are three stages in a termite life cycle you need to know about:

  • Eggs. These are laid by a queen of the colony. She mates with male termites to produce numerous small white eggs. 
  • Larva. The eggs hatch into a small larva called a nymph, which is pale and white. These molt in several stages as they grow.
  • The nymphs develop into a worker, soldier, or reproductive termite. Worker termites are white or transparent. Their job is to build and gather food. They also feed the baby termites and guard the eggs. Soldiers are a bit darker and have big mandibles used to defend the colony. Reproductive termites are darker and have wings.

The reproductive termites, the ones with wings, participate in a phenomenon called swarming when they are ready to reproduce. This is usually triggered when the colony has reached a particular size, and there are termites ready to form a new colony. Conditions, such as moist weather which is common in Brisbane, also alert them to the fact that the timing is good to reproduce. This usually happens once a year during the rainy season.

When they are the larval stage, the baby termites cannot feed themselves. They are actually harmless and won’t damage your wood. They rely on the worker ants to bring them food. They are the ones that eat wood cellulose to take back to the nest to feed the larvae.

  • What are subterranean termites? 

It’s important you know how to identify subterranean termites because they are the most common but also the most destructive. They live in the soil. This is because they require moisture to build their nests and survive. They will seek out wooden structures that can provide them with this moisture. They then build mud tunnels between the nest and the area they source their food – such as your home. The worrying thing is that a subterranean termite nest can host millions of termites.

  • How do I tell the difference between ants and termites?

It’s difficult for an untrained person to tell the difference between a reproductive termite and ants. That’s because they look quite similar to winged ants. However, there are some clear differences: 

  • Ants have larger forewings than their hindwings. Termites are the same size front and back. 
  • Ants have antennae that are bent.  Termites have straight or bowed antennae. 
  • Can a tree stump attract termites? 

The answer is clear on this one. Yes, if you have a tree stump in your yard, it can absolutely attract termites and puts your property at risk. Subterranean termites are known to feed on any wood they can find in the search for cellulose. Signs that a stump may be infested with termites include that it looks hollowed out. This is because they start to eat within the stump and work their way out. To test it, poke the stump with a screwdriver. If it enters the wood easily, it’s probably because it has been eaten by termites. Look around for signs of termite wings that have been discarded as this is also a common indication of their presence. 

It’s wise to remove tree stumps from your property to prevent termites from being attracted to your yard. If you leave it, they will simply devour it and then move into your home in search of more wood to feed on. You want to stop the termites while they are still living outside of your house, because once they are inside, they will start to cause severe damage, very quickly. If you discover termites in a tree stump, call in a pest control team to look for other signs of activity inside and outside your house. These could include:

  • Damp patches on your walls, particularly in wet rooms such as laundries, bathrooms, and kitchens
  • Mud tunnels on the walls outside the property
  • Peeling wood or paint that is bubbling
  • Sagging floorboards

If you purchase a new home and there are wood stumps in the yard, it is advisable to request a presale house inspection for termites. You could also ask the property owner to remove the tree stumps at his or her own cost to ensure you remove the risk to the house. 

Post Author: Sage King

Penelope Penny Sage King: Penny, a professional organizer, offers organization hacks, storage solutions, and advice on maintaining a tidy home.