Termites Are a Real Threat to Sydney’s Northern BeachesJune 26, 2018
Termites look more harmless than other pests because of their pale bodies. Unlike other insects, they don’t have a distinct shell or exoskeleton, making them seem more fragile and benign. Of course this interesting facet of their biology does have advantages. For example, the lack of chitin exoskeleton means any termite egg can develop into any type of adult termite. Every hatchling has an equal opportunity to become royalty or military.
Along the same lines, an elderly termite can actually moult back into a younger one, because its aging process is reversible. The flexible outer body allows it to regress into a younger phase in its life cycle, extending its life further. The average termite can live 2 to 5 years, though they don’t generally live past a year. Their colonies are ruled by a king and queen.
These monarchs start out as commoners, in more ways than one. When they pair up and start having babies, these two build their houses from scratch using a mix of soil, saliva, and faeces. They look after the first termite babies on their own. The queen lays thousands of eggs every day though, and it takes a few months for the eggs to mature.
Equal opportunity in the termite world
Over time, grown-up termites will help the queen and king look after new babies, leaving the royals free to focus on reproduction. Unlike other insects, termite castes aren’t rigid. A soldier can become a king, and a worker can join the military. Many termites circulate between castes in the same lifetime. This versatility challenges termite control services.
Sydney is a popular spot for pests, because the warm, humid weather is paradise for them. Everything from cockroaches to termites and wild game reside here, so it’s important to have a thorough strategy for pest control. The northern beaches are largely suburban, so their pest problems are slightly different from the mass of apartment blocks in central Sydney.
For example, cockroach attacks are more likely to come from bush roaches, so you should clear debris to prevent nests built under rotting logs from spreading into your house. On the other hand, termite colonies that live in decayed wood and tree stumps may see your house as the ultimate target for rural-urban migration. Cut a clear uncluttered path between your home and surrounding areas, to reduce their chances of surviving the crossing.
Royal termite wedding showers
Termite colonies can bring down a house in six months to a year. That’s how long it takes them to eat through two feet of wood, so if you have multiple colonies simultaneously attacking different areas of your home, you’ll soon be left with millions in property damage. It’s estimated termites cost $700M in property repairs every year, and that doesn’t count extermination prices, time lost, and human labour expenses.
After the rain, it’s common to see a swarm of termites flying around. They may seem harmless, and in some parts of the third world, they’re more like a free buffet. Flying ants and termites are considered a delicacy, so they are snatched out of the air and fried in their own body fat. For Aussies, they probably just make an interesting but annoying air show, watched safely from behind screened doors and shut windows.
However, this flight of the termites is actually a kind of mating dance. These winged wonders are called alates, and any termite in the colony can develop into one. Alates fly out of the mound in vast numbers. Some are eaten by birds, bats, and humans with woks. Some are weighed down by heavy raindrops, fall to the ground, and die. Some slam into oncoming traffic or are trampled by leather and gumboots.
Break up the newlyweds
But some of them survive, find a mate, and form a new colony. This means this innocent ‘nuptial flight’ is actually the most crucial time for termite battles, because a pair that lands too close to your northern beaches home could develop into a colony of millions within a few years, and that spells disaster for your property value. This is why regular termite inspection is such an important portion of termite protection strategy.
As an ordinary resident, you might not spot termites until your walls are hollow and riddled with holes and burrows. By then, you’re already in trouble. Conversely, professional exterminators can spot termite mounds while they’re still in the wild, or in their early stages of exploring your house. Book a residential evaluation every few months and take care of the problem before your woodwork repair bills start to rise.
And remember, termites can saw through plaster, metal, and insulation too, even though their preferred gourmet is wood. So don’t assume you’re safe just because your home is mostly steel and glass. Call the termite inspectors just in case. It doesn’t hurt.