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TERMITES IN ACTION – NOVEMBER 2018

Here we look at some surprising termite activity unearthed during residential inspections across the country. 

Nests inside buildings

Finding a termite nest inside a building isn’t a common occurrence. Of course, nests may well be under a concrete slab, but you’d never know. But if you do find a nest inside a building, it’s important to identify whether it is one of the following: the actual nest — with the queen and royal chamber; a bivouac; a staging post — which occurs when the main nest is a long way from the feeding site and may contain brood and reproductives; or just a lot of activity and carton material.

Old home with a hidden surprise

Customers of Kirk Oliver from Prime Pest Control and Home Maintenance in Kyabram, VIC, suspected they had termites in their walk-in wardrobe. “We confirmed their suspicions on investigation. Pulling up the carpet revealed floorboards in fairly bad condition, although the hardwood joists and bearers had been left untouched,” said Mr Oliver.

“The home was over 100 years old and the subfloor had no access. After getting approval to cut the floor as part of an invasive inspection, we found a serious amount of mudding, carton material and termite activity. Although we couldn’t con rm it was an actual nest, with the lack of ventilation and the ensuite shower only a metre away, it certainly would be an ideal nest location.” (Figure 1)

Figure 1: Subfloor of 100-year-old house packed with mudding and carton material – possible nest?

Another post-purchase nightmare

Many pest managers would have dealt with customers who, shortly after buying a property, have found their new purchase riddled with termites. Trent Hampshire, of Property Protect in Mudgee, found more than just termites. “We were contacted by a local builder who was renovating a house in Lue, NSW. While pulling up the floorboards, he found significant termite activity and called us to inspect,” said Mr Hampshire. “On arrival we found a whole Coptotermes nest in the subfloor. It measured around two metres by two metres and was basically holding the flooring up. Interestingly this house had just been sold and settled on the day we found it!” (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Large Coptotermes nest in a subfloor found on the day of settlement

A very unusual find

Rob Boschma from Specialist Termite Control in Melbourne, uncovered perhaps one of the most unusual finds for that part of Australia. One of his customers came across some termite activity during renovations and called Specialist Termite Control. “Whilst the activity the owner discovered was at one end of the house, during our inspection, the main area of activity was at the other end of the house, where we found mud flecking on the ceiling, between the first and second floors,” said Mr Boschma. “Being on an infill slab, we couldn’t find the termite entry points and so carried out a comprehensive baiting treatment.”

Figure 3: Royal chamber found in carton material

Once the baiting treatment had achieved colony elimination, it allowed Mr Boschma to carry out an invasive inspection. “We removed some of the ceiling plaster and found significant mudding and carton material in the ceiling space. We had initially assumed this to be a bivouac, but on further excavation we came across the royal chamber. (Figure 3).

“Typically, this part of Melbourne tends to produce Coptotermes frenchi infestations, which almost never colonise within structures, but in this case Coptotermes ascinaciformis – a more aggressive and adaptable species – had managed to colonise within the ceiling void, sustaining themselves on moisture from indoor plants. This is the first time I’ve ever come across a Coptotermes nest in the ceiling or roof of a home,” said Mr Boschma.

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