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A Big Termite Swarming Season Ahead

Brisbane 26th August 2013

Not all farmers will agree, but most of Australia has had a good season (for termites).

“The floods of a year ago and above average rainfall has boosted soil moisture that is a necessity for termites.” Said Ion Staunton an entomologist who provides termite advice to homeowners Australia-wide.

“Just this week I opened up a termite mound and found a large number of reproductive termites, some with fully developed wings in readiness for the spring colonising flight.

“This is earlier than I expected, even for Queensland, because the flights usually begin in late October through November and it is still only August” he said.

The serious termites that damage the seasoned timber in buildings are spread over mainland Australia, but not in Tasmania. These termites have the same basic habits and instincts. The swarm is equal numbers of male and females and once they land after their short, warm evening flight, they shed their wings which are equal in size and about 10-12mm long). Boy follows girl in search for wood in damp soil. They excavate a ‘cave’ beside the wood so they have two of the necessities covered: food and moisture. The third necessity is security in excluding ants; they have to find their nest site and be secure inside it by next morning.

If the soil dries out or if they have chosen a piece of wood that is too small, they will not survive the first critical summer. It takes 3-5 years for a nest to develop into a size that will pose a significant threat to homes and other structures.

“If one warm, early summer evening you see hundreds, even thousands of flying insects, it will because the termites have judged the outside climate to be similar to that inside the nest” says Staunton. “Then the colonising reproductives will not suffer climate shock, drying out or being too cold to do all the work they need to get through before the ants wake up.

“The pair will tend the first batch of eggs themselves, all of which will grow, in a series of moults, to become workers. These workers take over egg-tending, regurgitating wood to feed the nymphs and the ‘royals’ so they can spend all their time making babies they don’t have to look after.

“Some colonies will become a threat even if 99% don’t. Because this happens every spring all over Australia, homeowners should take a long term view in defending their homes.” said Staunton. “Give termite scouts something easy to find such as Termite Traps. Placing these around a property intercepts them before they find a gap through barriers, etc. to the inside. Once inside, you don’t discover what they’ve been eating until a floor gives way, a broom goes through a skirting board or there’s some other failure.”

Ion Staunton is an entomologist and authority on termites and termite control in Australia. He was a pest technician before becoming the first secretary of the national association, TAFE teacher, and the author of three books on the subject. He is the developer of the TermiTrap Colony Killing System, a DIY termite control system for Australian Homeowners.

More information is available at: www.termitetrap.com.au