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Termite Colony Myths

1. Termites Fact and Fiction: The Myths.

Termites in Australia are shrouded in folklore and misunderstanding. Much of this folklore has grown out of the overactive imagination of bar stool storytellers and BBQ conversation stoppers. Unfortunately, this misinformation can be financially dangerous and mentally disturbing. In this post, I will blow up the urban myths about termites.

The Fiction:

Termites destroy houses overnight... Myth busted. It will take many, many years for a termite infestation to destroy a house in most areas of Australia.

Black Ants stop termites... Myth busted. Termites operate in a sealed tunnel system impregnable to black ants or any other sort of ants.

If you disturb termites in the garden or fences you will chase them into the house... Myth busted. Termite foraging is a random process and is little influenced by human activity on the soil surface

You can infest your yard with infested mulch... Myth busted. Termites infesting mulch will die when the mulch is moved because they will now be disconnected from their nest.

You can infest your house with infested firewood... Myth busted. as above, once the firewood is carried into the house the termites on the firewood will be disconnected from their nest and will die.

You will see termites going through weep holes... Myth busted. Firstly, how do termites know about a weep holes (they cannot see). Secondly, yes it does happen, but 99% of all points of entry into the buildings are below ground level, because this is where termites encounter the house 99.9% of the time.

When your house is infested you will see holes and piles of dust... Myth busted. Firstly, termites are reluctant to break through the surface, so there will be no holes. Secondly if they do break through the surface they immediately fill the hole with ‘mud’. Thirdly when termites deposit their ‘mud’ (droppings) the material is wet and dries hard because of natural glue that binds it all together preventing it turning to dust.

Older houses, especially old wood houses, are most likely to get termites... Myth busted. Older houses became old because they were not eaten by termites. Often, they were built of material (hardwood) less susceptible to termite attack and in a style (on stumps) that was less prone to termite attack.

New houses especially brick veneer houses are safer... Myth busted. As above, but for the opposite reasons, use of more susceptible building materials (pine) and more prone to termite attack due to style of construction (slab on ground).

Units and commercial buildings etc don't get termites... Myth busted. Structures consisting mainly of concrete, steel and brick cannot be damaged by termites but the contents of these buildings are just as vulnerable.

Termites are out of control and eating though whole suburbs. One in four houses will have a termite infestation this year... Myth busted. Wrong on both counts because the numbers just stack up. If 1 in 4 houses were infested this year, then within 4 years every house owner would have experienced an attack. Think about all the people you know, now count how many have had termites in the last ten years. Better still ask them. I think you will find the infestation rate is more like 1 in 20 or 30; that has been my experience over the years.

Everything you hear on radio, TV, read in the newspapers or hear at a coffee morning, pub or BBQ is true... Myth busted. But you knew that already, you didn’t need me to tell you.

In the next post, I will highlight some of the commonly misunderstood termite facts.

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