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TERMITES - commonly known as 'white ants'
 
What do termites look like?
How to spot a termites nest
Early detection
What you should & should not do
Termite control
The TRUTH about wooden stump treatment!
 

  • The photographs and information on this page is to demonstrate how destructive TERMITES are and can be...
  • We endeavour to show how white ants work in 'stealth mode' in your wooden house stumps right under your nose.
  • We hope to educate the homeowner on what to look for and the best plan of attack.

What do termites look like?

 
  • There are over 350 species of termites in Australia, of which some 20 species can damage timber homes.
 

What damage can termites do to your wood house stumps?

 

Termites live in colonies in your wooden house stumps and will make a nest in one or more of them, one wooden house stump can house some one hundred thousand or more white ants, all working away to eat out the timber stump from the inside where you can not see them; leaving only a thin wooden outer shell after they are finished eating the timber.

If your timber stumps DO NOT have ant capping, or what is known as a 'stump cap' in the trade, or the stump caps are old and showing signs of rusting as shown here, there could be a small pin hole or a larger hole in the metal stump cap.  Termites will eat their way up the middle of the wood stump to the top, find this hole and then make their way into the timber bearer and into the walls of your home all undetected by you until it is far too late!

Thousands of dollars or even tens of thousands
of dollars of damage are done in some cases...
 
 

Just one rusted ant cap can cause all these problems...

 

 

Note the termite trails above leading to cover and into the home?
Not what you need as it is a costly repair.

 

These photos show just how termites work undetected  
This elderly woman was led to believe that if she treated the termites every six months, this
problem would be solved and all the termites would be gone, but sadly, that was not the case. 
You can see from the photo above that the white ants went right up the wooden stump, found
a hole in the ant cap and went into the wooden bearer...Luckily in this case the stump was
removed in time before the termites got into the home.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note the termite’s tracks above the new concrete stump I put in to rid the home of the old termite infested wood stump and how they made their way up and along the bearer and into the 'VJ' pine boards in an attempt to gain entry to the house.

 

   

   

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How to spot a termites nest

 
Here are a couple of photos of a termite nest under a home.
The above photo (left) was taken with a flashgun & the one on the right was taken without any
flash, to demonstrate just how hard it is to see a termites nest under a dark house...Nests like
this, built in a dark corner, attached to the timber floor joist and the 'V.J' pine internal wallboards,
clearly demonstrate how common it is to miss things like this when you are walking around under
your home.
 

 

 

 

These photographs show just how the termites attempt to camouflage themselves and track their way into your home...

This is a photograph of a termites nest, made on top of the wooden house stump.  The termites infiltrated into the stump, working their way up the middle of it to the top, building a huge nest in readiness to make their way into the bearer and into the home...

 

 

This is a wooden house stump that over the years dried out, causing the timber to split.  This made a nice home for termites to live in; you can see the termite tracks in the split wood...

Due to bad advice from a so called professional pest control man, the termites got into half the wooden stumps under this elderly woman’s home causing a very costly problem for her to fix.  This brings a question into mind; WHY did he not tell this woman that the stumps were in such a bad state and to have them replaced?  The only answer that comes into my mind, is that when you know that you're guaranteed a call back to inspect for termites in the wooden house stumps and poison every 6 or 12 months - why would you tell the person that the wood stumps are rotten and to replace them in concrete when concrete stumps do not need to be poisoned, thus reducing the amount of wood stumps needing to be treated, cutting down the amount that the pest man can charge (would you be honest and take a pay cut?)

 

 

 

 

Termites travel underground and get into a wooden house stump at the bottom. 
This photo clearly shows them eating their way into the centre and then up the stump.

Note how they ate their way from the outer edges of the wooden stump into the centre, working their way up the middle...They were protected from the elements and worked away happily undetected.

 

Termites must keep out of the elements (sunlight and heat), for white ants must stay moist to stay alive.  Their nest must also be out of the elements for the nest to survive, although in some cases their nests are exposed to a degree of sunlight but the mud composition of the nest insulates them from the heat.  Moisture plays a big part of a termites survival and that is why termites will make a nest in the bottom of a wood stump or under a concrete slab underneath a home.  Termites will also make nests in the base of a living or dead tree in your yard or your neighbours yard or wood fences and will travel underground looking for fresh timber to eat.

Termites do not like to be disturbed, so if you neighbour has house restumping done or puts up a new fence and the termites are disturbed, they will then often move to another location in search of wood and in most cases - your stumps!

If you have a termite problem and you replace some old wooden termite infested house stumps with new concrete stumps and the termites are not treated before the removal of the old stumps; being disturbed, they will again relocate to one or more of your remaining wooden house stumps and start all over again!  

 

Why did termite treatment not work for this person?  In this and many cases, mainly because the pest control man was called far too late and the damage was already done.

 
The treatment process could not work, as the hole in the middle of the wooden house
stumps was far too great and the poisons did not take. 
 

The following photos will show you why...

This is a photo of one of the old wooden stumps; note the hole that was drilled into the side of the stump by the pest control man, at what would have been just above ground level?

This is where the poison was put into the stump, in an attempt to eradicate all termite activity, but it did not work.  In this case it was a waste of time and good money.  As you can see; the stump was already very much hollowed out and the poison did not soak into the stump as it was meant to do.  All that happened was the poison ran down one side into the ground and did not stop a single termite.  How do I know this?  When we removed the stump and it dropped to the ground; the ground where if fell was white with termites crawling every where!  The damage was done by the termites at ground level, as the stump is hollow and the poison could not do what it was meant to do.  It did not stop the white ants from eating out the stump.  Note the termite damage at the bottom of the stump - The termites ate all but a few millimetres of the stump away, leaving just enough wood there so as to not be noticed.

 

 

The photo below shows the same stump turned upside down.  This gives an inside view of how the poison was unable to do anymore than run into the ground, as the centre of the stump had been eaten away and the termites were still happily munching away unaffected!

People who own 'Queenslander' homes on wooden house stumps, know just how costly it is for termite treatment every six to twelve months.  What you are seldom made aware of however, is how many of those stumps are hollow in the centre, but every six or twelve month interval, the pest control man pays a visit to 'treat the stumps' when what really needs doing is replacing, not treating!

 

Read MORE facts about treated wooden house stumps HERE

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Early detection

Please do not read this the wrong way; it is a wise idea to contact a pest control person to inspect your property at least once a year, to inspect and look for early warning signs of termite activity. 

 
If you do not keep an eye out for this problem,
this could happen to your home, if left undetected...

 

 

The photos above and below are of one of the worst houses I have ever been asked to quote on...The termites attacked this home with such vengeance for so many years with nothing ever done about them and now it is far too late to do a thing to fix it.  The condition of this home is that dangerous it should be reported & condemned; There are NO back steps or a back wall.  There is virtually NOTHING left to support the roof as you can see; one red trolley props up the refrigerator!  The bathtub has gone through the floor and it now lays on the dirt underneath the house!  

Many of the wooden stumps have fallen over and the stumps that are still standing, have sunk way out of level, yet the owner is still living in the home!

(I would not walk within 5 meters of this house, let alone go under it or live in it) yet this man will not leave the home...

 

Do not let this happen to your home!!!  

 

 

The photo below is a termite nest hidden between trees in the owners back yard.  It demonstrates clearly that termites can hide themselves very well and blend into the surrounding area, so as to not stand out - making them harder to see and to find.  This nest was stumbled upon by pure chance!

The mother nest was built in moist, soft ground in the shade of trees, to prevent direct sunlight prematurely drying out the nest.

 

 

...More photos of the same home - You can see termite damage to a structural timber bearer supporting the rear deck of this home...

(Either the building inspector was blind or did not care!)

As well as a partial timber sleeper, which in fact is part of a timber retaining wall, some 2.5 meters in height and 4.5 or so meters long.  Filled with dirt and builders rubble right up to the structural timber bearer, this home had no termite barrier in place to stop any termite access to the timber.  In fact, none of the timber sleeper retaining walls were constructed from F 17 treated timber as required by building code laws.  They were instead, constructed from non-treated standard timber, which was not picked up in the building report when the home was purchased three years ago.  In fact, there are several faults that I had found when I was quoting to repair the problems, which were never found nor stated in the pre-purchase building inspection report.

 

...The same house; Can you see the nest?  This was INSIDE of the bedroom wall!  The owners were luckily alerted to it when they heard an odd sound that they describe as "munching"...Subsequent investigation revealed this little surprise!  The pest control people were called out and the termites eradicated, but not before they had done extensive damage, necessitating expensive replacement of the house frame in this area.

 

Still at the same house; The owners have recently found these little "mini volcano pipes" BETWEEN their pavers under their back veranda - THIS is a classic termite 'building project'; the material they use to start building their nest (Which without VERY PROMPT attention would become a HUGE termite mound!), is actually the remnants they have EATEN from the wooden retaining wall, two photos up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say this; It takes the same amount of time and effort to do a good job using the correct materials and treated timbers, as it does to do a BAD job. 

It takes years to build up a good name and reputation for yourself and only five minutes to create a bade name and reputation for your-self and destroy your reputation for life - So why would a contractor or person bother to short cut on quality, for the sake of price and cheap materials? 

But then again, all the extensions and renovations done here to this home, was by an OWNER-BUILDER.

 

 

Here you see active termites, happily eating out the non-treated timber sleeper retaining wall.  If this timber had been treated and termite-proofed from day one by the 'OWNER-BUILDER' - NONE of these problems would've occurred and the new owners would not have to pay to fix the problems that the previous owner had left them with.  If the 'building inspector' wasn't blind and did a proper inspection in the first place and noted the problems in the report, that termites were active in the timber sleeper retaining walls, (as termites do not just turn up over night) an informed decision could have been made as to whether or not to buy the home, rather than get stuck with a costly problem which is now a priority to fix and that now requires the assistance of a structural engineer beforehand.

 

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What you should & should not do

What should you do?

 

  • DO Be vigilant in checking your stumps every couple of months.

 

  • DO Call a pest control man to inspect your wood stumps, no less than every six months; it will be money well spent and regular inspections by a competent inspector, can save you thousands of dollars.

 

  • Look at the ant caps (stump caps) around the outer walls of your home for rust spots or rust holes, but also look under the ant caps as well, for any signs of rust.

 

  • Paint under the ant caps to make sure that moisture cannot cause rust spots.

 

  • As wooden stumps get older, they are prone to start splitting and cracking.  This is caused by the drying out of the timber, above ground level.  As the cracks start to appear, treat as soon as possible with a 'gap filler' compound, as this will stop any moisture getting into the stump and causing dry rot from starting.  It will also stop any 'unwanted pests' from making your wooden stump their home. 

  • Check both your front and back steps under the bottom tread for signs of termite tracks or mounds.  If your bottom step tread is very close to the ground, be very vigilant - for the closer to the ground that the step treads are, the easier it is for the termites to get into.

 


What should you NOT do?

 

  • Do not leave old timber lying on the ground, or under your house on dirt or concrete, as this will attract termites. 

 

  • Do not build gardens against your wooden stumps, or the wood palings between your stumps, as this will only attract termites faster, as does the pine bark used to cover the gardens to retain moisture.

 

  • Do not use little pieces of timber to store furniture on, under your home.  Use bricks, as termites will not eat bricks or concrete (neither would I) 

  • Do not leave old cardboard packing boxes or tea chests around, as they too are termite food and good cover for them to move around under.

 

  • Do not leave a timber stack lying around on the ground under your home or in your back yard unless you keep the timber 150 to 200mm off the ground on besser blocks or house bricks.

 

  • Remove any old tree stumps in your yard and poison the area before filling the hole made by removing the old tree stump.  Tree grinding is an option, but will only remove the bulk of the old tree stump and not the roots, which the termite will also remain in and use as food and as a conduit to travel underground in your yard.

 

  • Do not build garden edges from timber, pine or hard wood sleepers unless it is treated timber and is stated suitable for the purpose that you have in mind.

 

  • Retaining wall Timber sleeper retaining wall pine or hardwood really should not be used where you are trying to hold back an amount of dirt.

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Termite control

 

I have drawn this diagram to show you how termites attack your wooden house stumps and find their way into the walls of your home.

 

This diagram shows what you can do to control and limit termite access and their entry into your home.

 

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