What are Termites?
Termites are soft bodied insects also known as white ants. However, termites aren’t ants at all, they are closely related to cockroaches. Termites have a well structured social system with great engineering capabilities and strong survival instincts. As social insects, they are working and living together in colonies. Each colony has several types of termites that differ in behaviour and body shape (castes). Each caste can perform different tasks – workers, soldiers and king/queen caste. There are almost 2000 identified termite species in the world and they can be found on all continents except Antarctica.
Termite Species in Australia
There are more than 300 different termite species in Australia, but only a small number causes serious problems to properties. Termites are categorised under following species names: Coptotermes, Mastotermes, Nasutitermes, Schedorhinotermes, Microcerotermes and Heterotermes. The most problematic species in Australia are Coptotermes.
Cellulose that can be found in plants, is the main food of all termites, so that all kinds of plant material could be damaged by this kind of insects. However, most termite species take grass and other vegetation as food.
The main natural termites enemies are ants, but there are also various kinds of other predators like frogs, snakes, birds and predatory insects like dragonflies.
Termites are one of the most problematic and destructive insect in the world. Many structures and buildings are damaged by these problematic species, each year, resulting in big financial losses.
Although the northern part of Australia and coastal belt are high risk areas for problematic subterranean termite infestation, species which makes damage can be found throughout other parts of this country. Any structure containing wood can be exposed to subterranean termite infestation unless some protective measures are made. It can happen in the suburbs, but also in the heart of the city. Termites in Australia can make huge structural timber damage to domestic or commercial buildings.