If a building is under termite attack, it makes sense to try and find the nest causing the problem. Taking time to inspect the property around buildings under termite attack, with special attention to trees and tree stumps, is a key first step in any treatment. However, inspections to AS 3660.2 are visual and non-intrusive- and while it includes a visual inspection of potential nest habitat in gardens and trees, it is not the most effective way to search for a termite nest in the Melbourne environment.
If we recommend that an ‘intrusive nest search’ is worthwhile as a separate service from the inspection, we will drill and temperature probe selected trees and stumps usually in the immediate area around an infested building. If we locate a nest, usually by following a heat source with temperature probes, it can usually be clearly demonstrated that it is indeed a termite nest with a Queen (s), and not merely a tree containing just feeding termites.
We are most successful at nest location in the treed outer Melbourne suburbs where the species Coptotermes frenchi is located. We have far less success at nest location in inner urban areas where, even if there are trees present, they don’t seem to contain the nests of the ‘urban termite’ Coptotermes acinaciformis.
Apart from assisting us in managing the termite infestations of our clients, we also provide nest location services in parks and reserves for councils, typically where residents have noticed the ‘tell-tale’ evidence of flying termites emanating from a tree.
What if we find a termite nest?
If we are successful at locating a termite nest then we ‘stop and think’. If we plan to protect the building with a soil treatment, then we would probably proceed and treat the nest site directly with a non-repellent liquid termiticide. Simple.
However, what if we would prefer to do a ‘baiting program’ on the termites actually feeding in an infested building, so that we know that we are treating the ‘right’ termites? A treatment directly into a nest outside the building may compromise any baiting program and so increase uncertainty. So, in such cases, we would probably prefer to stand aside from direct nest treatment until the baiting program is complete. We would then re-check the nest outside (in a tree). It is usually dead. Killed by the baits from the building. However, sometimes it is alive. I which case we would then treat it directly- thereby killing two termite nests, not just one.
What we if we cannot find a termite nest?
Although finding and destroying local termite colonies around the building is good practice, it is often no practical to achieve. In fact, in many situations, such as the inner city where there may be no overt tree habitat, we do not attempt nest location.
Fortunately, we have modern methods of killing a hidden and remote termite nest- even without actually finding it, and successful outcomes are possible when the nest remain unlocated.
What’s next after colony control?
Eliminating active termites from the building and destroying any termite colonies may stop the current termite attack, but it won’t prevent a building being attacked in the future. A plan that provides on-going termite management into the future will always be recommended by our specialists. This typically involves either ‘soil treatment’ or a ‘monitoring program’ together with regular inspections.
Key facts about termite nests
Coptotermes acinaciformis The ‘urban termite’. This species inflicts more damage to buildings across Australia than any other species and is the main enemy in urban Melbourne and the central business district. We seldom find it’s nests since it generally just builds its’ mound in the ground or under building structures like suspended concrete slabs/ steps, and we know surprisingly little about this species.
However, we suspect that it’s nests are linked to other nests, since history has shown us that even when we are positive about achieving an effective and documented thorough colony eradication program, this species does tend to re-infest – even if it is many years later. So history has also taught us of the importance of on-going ‘protective’ management such as termite monitors or soil treatment, as well as regular inspections- just in case…..
Coptotermes frenchi, (Country termite) This species is the main invasive termite in outer Melbourne and country areas. It tends to build it’s large single nest site within a void it creates in the base of a big old tree. From there, it radiates out for up to 90 meters within a network of mud tubes in the soil- sniffing out for for wood in landscaping or buildings to chew and take back to the nest. We find this termite frequently, and dealing with it is our bread and butter.
Nasutitermes This Genera is common in many back yards and landscaping timbers across Melbourne, where it seldom damages buildings. However, a different species of this termite builds soft mud mounds in country Victoria (typical Kilmore/ Broadford/Wondong) and damages buildings and shows its’ distinct black stain in its’ mudding.
Dampwood termites. These termites do no come from a nest. Their small family groups live entirely within the feeding site of a piece of decaying wood. Nest treatment therefore does not apply. They can cause severe damage to some poorly ventilated buildings especially in inner Melbourne. Since regular termite products and methods are ineffective against this Genus, their management is usually ‘cultural’. ie Replacement of timber and improvement in ventilation and timber separation.