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A surprising discovery in a subfloor highlights the importance of always trying to eliminate a termite nest. 

Turn the lights out

Many pests can cause problems with electrics in buildings – rodents, cockroaches and ants. With their workings and mudding, termites can also cause issues. Kahlie Leigh from Pest Evict in Bowen (north Queensland) spotted significant Schedorhinotermes mudding around this light switch. The termites had travelled through the middle of a single brick wall, coming out of the top before working their way down to the light switch (Figure 1). Obviously, if termite mudding is seen around a light switch, it should not be used and an electrician called.

Figure 1: If termite activity is observed around light switches or plug sockets, an electrician should be called

Termites hitch a lift

The ability of termites to find an entry point to a structure and then travel considerable distances never ceases to amaze. John Eastwood from EBS Queensland was carrying out a routine service on an over 50s resort living complex, when the lift engineer, who was also on site at the same time asked if they could have a look to see if what he found was a pest issue (Figure 2).

Although there was a lot of moisture at the bottom of the lift shaft, no obvious entry point could be found, no timber was present and the termites had not (yet) caused any damage. Control was achieved using Termidor dust and, given the situation, no preventative system could be installed.

Travelling up three storeys on a wish (no obvious food source), is certainly a high-risk investment of energy from the termites. What were they ‘thinking’?

Figure 2: Termites travelling up a lift shaft with no obvious food source

Termites playing games

Mark Fitzpatrick from Penrith Valley Pest Control was called by a real estate agent to investigate a potential termite problem at a deceased estate. The presence of termites was easy to confirm (Figure 3) – maybe they were listening to ‘Knock on wood’? Despite receiving a quote, the executor (son of the deceased) decided to take no action and to ‘sell as seen’. To date, the property is still on the market.

Steve Butcher from Riverside Pest Management in Deniliquin, NSW spotted termites using rather elaborate wooden stumps to access an onsite caravan and annexe (Figure 4), where they had demolished framing and cupboards. Jenga anyone?

Figure 3: Termites making themselves at home in a deceased estate
Figure 4: Anyone for Jenga?

Follow best practice

A recent termite job for Steve Butcher in Echuca, Victoria highlighted the value in carrying out best practice in dealing with every termite job. The weatherboard house was on concrete stumps with the ventilation blocked with corrugated iron and garden beds and no access to the subfloor. Significant termite activity was detected in the veranda, a couple of bedroom door jambs and flooring.

The owners did not want the floor taken up or hatches cut, as new flooring and carpet had just been laid after previous termite damage (treated by another company). No entry points could be detected, so a baiting program commenced to control the activity and eliminate the nest (which could not be located). During the course of the baiting, there were two mating swarms from the veranda post, so suspicions were raised as to the possibility of a nest under the veranda.

“We finally convinced the owner to look further and on cutting a hatch inside the house, we located a nest in the subfloor [not under the veranda],” said Mr Butcher (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Nest located in the subfloor

“It really illustrated the importance of attempting to use tools to eliminate the nest. Without eliminating the nest, any termite system installed around the perimeter of the home would have been useless.”