Types of Termites

Types of Termites

Types of Termites in Australia

There are over 350 kinds of termites found in Australia! However, only a small number of them cause damage to timber, crops and other economic items. In the wild, termites help recycle dead timber, rotting wood and other natural plant materials. Termites are also a common source of food for many animals. They are a vital part of Australia's ecosystem. But when your building becomes infested with termites, it can be quite a serious issue that must be dealt with at once!

To get rid of a termite infestation, you must understand the breed of termite you are dealing with. Termites have different feeding habits and varying potential for causing damage to a structure. It is crucial for an expert to identify the species of termite in an infestation so that pest control may provide the best long-term solution. Entomologists (bug-scientists) have grouped termites into three main categories based on their feeding and nesting habits: subterranean, dry-wood and damp-wood.

Subterranean (below-ground) species

Subterranean termite species are the most common category of termite infestation in buildings. Members of this species are some of the most destructive insect pests around the world. In nature, they tend to infest dead wood that touches the soil. They may set up colonies in dead trees, branches and stumps. Subterranean termites prefer wood that has already partially rotted, which is easier for them to digest. However, they can digest intact wood.

Subterranean termites must be near a source of water in order to live. They make nests in or near the ground where they can easily get moisture from the dirt. They burrow through soil as they search for wood or moisture. In dry seasons they will tunnel down very deep into the soil to reach moisture. When they forage depends on the weather. They are very active after summer rainfall and less active in cold or dry weather. In tropical areas they can forage all year round, peaking during wetter and warmer weather.

Dry-wood species

Dry-wood termites set up a home inside of timber pieces. There may be lots of small colonies inside a single piece of timber or a piece of furniture. They can feed across yearly rings in timber, so the galleries (hollowed out chambers) don't follow the grain of wood (like you see with subterranean termites). They can infest all types of timber. Dry-wood species get all of their moisture from the wood, however, they need high levels of humidity to survive. Colonies can grow for years undetected until the termites swarm out or the timber busts.

Damp-wood species

Damp-wood termites normally infest partially decayed wood that remains moist due to contact with the elements. They are most likely to infest moist timber that is outside, such as logs or a stump that touches the ground. Inside of a home, water leaks may cause wood to be damp and decaying. If damp-wood termites are found inside a building this is telling of a moisture problem. But there is good news: damp-wood species tend to be lesser pests that can be controlled by repairing the water leak!

Damp-wood termites live completely inside of the wood that they feed on, creating large cavities within the wood. Damp-wood colonies are small and may be present for years without detection. Usually, they are discovered when the insects swarm from an overpopulated colony.

Top Species of Termite Pests
  • subterranean termite
  • giant northern termite
  • West Indian dry-wood termite

Termite species can be difficult to identify. At the first sign of a termite invasion, it's important to get the experts involved. Identifying the termite species will allow you to seek out the proper treatments.