The impressive ability of termites to hollow out timbers, leaving just a fine protective layer, means much damage may be done to a structure before you are aware of their presence. Subterranean termites often enter a house undetected through wood that is lying on the soil, and then travel to the rest of the house via its framework.
However, it’s not hard to become termite savvy. As termites rarely come out into the open, it’s not the termite itself to go looking for, but secondary evidence of their presence. Damaged wood or mud shelter tubes are key indicators of termite presence.
The mud shelter tubes are built by subterranean termites to cross physical barriers such as metal termite shields (also called ant caps) or brickwork. These barriers effectively bring termites – or at least their mud tunnels – out into the open, making detection easy. In order to both detect and prevent termite attack, visual inspections of your home are essential.
What to do
- Regularly inspect your home; get to know its vulnerable spots where termites might enter.
- Check any wood that might be connecting your house to the soil, such as piles of timber, as well as living and dead trees and stumps. Look for signs of damaged wood, which will be easily pierced with a screwdriver.
- Check for things such as sagging floors, signs of dampness, cracked paint.
- Check with your local council on how often and when termite inspections might be needed.
If you do find, or strongly suspect you have termites on your property don’t panic and run amok with insecticides. The worst thing you can do is disturb the insects – this will only cause them to retreat, hide and possibly re-enter the property somewhere else. Keep the element of surprise on your side.
Termites work slowly, so you are much better off to take the time for an inspector to do a thorough inspection, correctly identify the species and produce a detailed assessment of the situation. What you are really after here is reliable, expert advice.