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There are around 300 species of termite in Australia, but only a handful cause issues. Subterranean termites (also known as white ants) cause most of the damage around the country. They feed off cellulose-containing materials such as timber.
Termites can cause major structural and economic harm to houses and commercial buildings by eating the inside of the construction and leaving only a thin shell for protection against the outside environment.
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Mud shield tubes that they build for protection (pictured). These can sometimes be seen in brick foundations or in architraves.
Easily broken skirting boards, door jams or architraves (because termites take away the structural integrity of wood, a little knock to these areas can lead to damage).
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Cracked paint or plaster (termites eat away at wood they impact the structural integrity causing cracks in paint or plaster).
Temperature and rainfall seem to have the most significant impact on termite activity, followed closely by the home's age. If you stumble upon a termite nest on your house, don't disturb it until you have determined an appropriate termite management plan using a skilled pest manager. Once disturbed, termites might abandon the region, move elsewhere and remain undetected. .
Termites don't only eat away at structural timbers, they can also chomp their way through furniture, paper goods, fabrics, clothing, footwear and even non-cellulose substances including soft plastics, building sealants and rigid foam insulation.
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Assess your home's surrounds shrubs or garden beds should be well clear of the building edge and not pay weep holes (the tiny openings left between bricks to let water drain out).
Keep places under your house clear don't shop items that can reduce the ventilation area under the home.
If you're building a new house, certain construction procedures and materials can lessen the termite risk considerably.
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The Building Code of Australia requires that new houses and extensions have a termite management system in place in all regions (except Tasmania, where the termite risk is negligible). Homes built after July 1995 must have a'durable notice' of treatment fixed into a prominent position in the building (near the meter box or the entrance to a crawl space), listing the:.
If you are building a new house or doing a substantial renovation, be sure to put in appropriate physical or chemical barriers. A few can be retrofitted but it's simpler to install them during construction.
Termite shields (also known as ant caps) don't prevent termite activity but bring it into the open, as it is easier to discover their mud shelter tubes on the metal caps.
Woven stainless steel mesh or finely graded stone particles can be installed in a concrete slab and pit walls around pipe openings and so on, so termites can't undergo those concealed entry points.
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Composite systems such as treated plastic or fabric sheets contain chemicals that will degrade over time, unlike actual physical obstacles.
Reticulation systems involve piping fitted under slabs and around the edges of a building with access explanation points for injection of insecticide.
Chemical barriers are applied under and around a concrete slab or around the building piers or footings.
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Synthetic pyrethroids such as permethrin or bifenthrin are generally less hazardous than many of the earlier insecticides which were banned in most areas of Australia in the mid 1990s.
Fipronil and imidacloprid are particularly effective against termites as they are non-repellant. This means the termites will travel throughout the zone without detecting the compound and take it back into the colony, therefore contaminating other termites.
Arsenic trioxide dust is a very toxic substance and a confirmed carcinogen for humans. It had been commonly utilised in the past in termite dusting processes but has been replaced with less toxic insect growth regulators (IGRs) like triflumuron. This distinctive blue powder is very effective, but may take a little longer than arsenic dust to wipe out a colony.