Over the years, homeowners have taken over the treatment of fleas, cockroaches and spiders, but until now, termites have been a pest thought of as too hard — too complicated and too likely to cost big money if you get it wrong.
A healthy scepticism is warranted because most people know a termite horror story and many times it has been because a professional took short cuts, didn’t look in the right places or didn’t look at all.
Well, there are a lot of great blokes in pest management and the good ones do first class work. They know the principles and they are diligent.
But, homeowners can learn the principles and they will definitely be diligent because it is their own home.
Of the 300 plus species of termites in Australia, only a few make the list of serious economic timber destroyers.
In the SW corner of WA, there are only four to five of these significant termites and they all have the same habits, lifestyle and instincts. They are subterranean, meaning they live and nest in the soil and whenever they leave it to find wood, they cover their tracks with a mud-like tunnel and use the same ‘mud’ to block out light coming through cracks and splits into where they are eating.
What you need to do to check for termites is to carefully inspect for mud tunnels between the ground and the timber parts of your buildings, fences, etc.
If your home has a suspended floor with joists and bearers, you’ll have to go under and check all the piers, stumps and foundation walls.
Then you go inside and starting, at say the front door, keep moving to the right (or left) and check all timber surfaces such as skirting boards, architraves, window and door frames.
Tap them all, listening for a hollow sound and look for an uneven surface where termites may have hollowed it out leaving only the paint. You need to check everything as you go until you end up back at the front door.
Now you face the same problems in the roof as the best professionals — insulation that hides the roofing timbers. Theoretically, if you didn’t find signs below, then there is less likelihood of finding them up there. But termites are so sneaky you can never be really sure they are not attacking your house, so inspect at least every year. The first week of spring or the first week of autumn are better because it’s not so hot or cold up in the roof or under the house.
The other major contribution you can make to the war effort is to put some monitors around your buildings.
The important termites live in the soil — they forage for new food sources through the soil and when they find a monitor such as the Termite Trap with its clear top, they let you know they’ve arrived by their mud signal in the hole at the top.
After that, it’s just a matter of adding a non-toxic-to-humans-and-pets termite bait which is taken back to the nest to kill off the whole colony.
As colonies can take two to five years to to get to the numbers to launch a significant attack on buildings, putting Termite Traps out in the gardens surrounding your house means you can kill off nests faster than the termites can build them.
For more information, phone 1800 20 30 20 or see www.termitetrap.com.au