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Types of Termites in the Tropics


Termites are one of nature’s most efficient stealth infiltrators. Within a few months, a single termite colony can completely gut timber structures without detection. For homeowners living in the tropics, the damage that termites are capable of causing is often catastrophic.

Due to their nature, termites are attracted to areas that are humid, moist and have a ready supply of timber to feed the colony. That means that your home is a potential goldmine for termites, if they are given the chance to infiltrate your wall cavities or foundations.

There are a number of types of termite which pose a threat, so it’s important to recognise the signs of and areas of possible infestation where you live. Knowing what to look for could mean the difference between extermination and the need to completely rebuild your home.

termitesCoptotermes Acinaciformis

Coptotermes Acinaciformis is a subterranean termite, which are native to Northern Territory – although they are found in other areas of Australia to a lesser extent. They have a particular fondness for eucalypt gum trees, and will often build colonies at the base of the tree.

This type of termite poses the most threat to foundations or wooden structures at the lower level of your home. However, due to their love of moisture, they may also set up sub-colonies behind shower enclosures, baths, sink units, washers etc.

Although the colonies that Coptotermes Acinaciformis are usually out of site, they are actually the most destructive of the termite species found in Australia. If you live in an urban area or anywhere that has a large number of eucalypt gum trees, regular termite inspections are recommended.

Mastotermes Darwiniensis

Mastotermes Darwiniensis are extremely proficient breeders. Like Coptotermes Acinaciformis, this species creates subterranean colonies which house over 100,000 termites. However, once the main colony becomes too large for the workers to maintain, further nests are created in the same area in a continuous fashion.

 Nests will often branch out into tree stumps and root systems, destroying all available timber sources in the area. Not only are Mastotermes Darwiniensis the cause of destruction to homes, they also destroy trees and crops. When allowed to thrive, Mastotermes Darwiniensis will infest large swathes of land, leaving devastation in their wake.

In addition to feeding on or colonising in timber and trees, Mastotermes Darwiniensis will cause extensive damage to any other materials they can chew through. If you plan on farming your land, this is one species of termite that you will want to make sure doesn’t set up home on your property.

Drywood Termites

The Drywood termite is a tropical termite in every sense. They prefer consistently high humidity, so the tropics of Northern Territory are perfectly suitable as their ideal home. Drywood termites will mostly cause damage to timber structures accessible from the soil where they build their nests.

However, this species of termite is more than capable of finding its way into the home, where it will cause damage to floors, doors, furniture and other timber fixtures.   The best defence against Drywood termites is not allowing them access to timber structures.

Any timber that is in contact with the soil should either be removed or protectively sealed. Chemical extermination and repellent treatments have also been shown to work. Although this species is less secretive than its more destructive cousins, you should still have regular termite inspections carried out to mitigate any possible infestation.

Prevention is the best defence against termites, so it is important to have inspections carried out to determine the risk of infestation. Whenever you are building or buying a home, consider including a termite inspection in your plans. The cost of inspection and prevention will far outweigh the cost of dealing with the destruction caused by a serious termite infestation.

For more information or to book a pre-purchase termite inspection in NT, contact Houspect.

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