The habits of termites

Termites group

Termites in Australia (sometimes referred to as White Ants) are a scourge to building owners and in fact it’s estimated 1 in 4 homes will be victim to an attack by termites at some point in time. The saying being forewarned is to be forearmed is quite relevant when it comes to the potential threat of termites so it’s probably wise to explore a few basic habits that termites exhibit (especially what termites eat ) to gain a better understanding of these ubiquitous pests.

Termites are random, subterranean foragers and what they are foraging for is food. What termites eat, what they constantly desire, is cellulose. Cellulose is found in plant cell walls and is the most abundant organic compound on earth. It’s used to make such things as paper, cardboard and even plastic and clothes and of course, it’s a major component of wood so it’s not hard to see why when a termite colony finds a ready source of cellulose they will voraciously devour it until that source is exhausted. A home, for example, provides a great many opportunities for termites whether it be wooden roof trusses, cardboard boxes lying around the garage, chipboard shelving in the shed or even gyprock walls . . . .they won’t discriminate and they’ll use many cunning ways to reach their food source.

Termites are very social creatures and live in underground colonies that could be 50 – 100 metres from a food source. These colonies can number anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of termites and they have a social order of soldier and worker termites as well as a king and queen and the one common thread all colonies have is their strong desire to seek food. An interesting fact . . .  the CSIRO informs us that the Queen of a termite colony has been known to live up to 50 years!

Termites do play an important role in our eco system in that they devour rotting wood and plants but, as previously mentioned, they don’t discriminate in that they also relish prepared timber and their foraging is solely aimed at finding any new source of food and whilst this foraging can lead to problems for building owners, it can also be used to our advantage in the tracking of movements of termites over a property.

More details about termites can be found in the TYPE OF PESTS section of this website HERE.