Often the first indication of an infestation is the collapse of flooring or of structural bearers and/or joists.
Termite activity is detected by one or several of the following characteristics:
Termite shelter tubes. These are earthen tubes, originating from the ground that can appear on walls and foundations. They give protection to the termites and enable them to gain access to structural and joinery timbers of buildings.
The shelter tubes (Mud Leads) protect termites from most predators and maintain high humidity and darkness during their comings and goings from the main colony area. The shelter tubes are constructed by termites mainly at night, when the humidity is usually higher than that during the day. Thus, the workers and soldiers are less likely to desiccate while they are not sealed in the security of these tubes.
Mud Leads enable termites to reach sources of food that are not accessible to them any other way. Barriers such as metal foundation shield’s (Ant Caps) are also crossed by means of these leads.
Subterranean termite species make tunnels through the soil. These originate from the colony and are the means of foraging for resources. Timber in or on ground is attacked from these underground tunnels. In the case of the pest species Coptotermes acinaciformis: the subterranean tunnels, which are mostly in the top 20cm of soil, radiate up to 50m, and in some soils they may be deeper and radiate even further.
Some other subterranean species have similar ranges of activity, but the more primitive species in the family Termopsidae (Porotermes Stolotermes) do not have these ranges. The tunnels are used by the workers travelling from the food source to the main colony, although soldiers occur along their length for defence.
Some species, such as Nasutitermes, build many of their tunnels over the top of the ground or within the top centimetre of soil. There are over three hundred species of termites in Australia and many require no treatment, so it is very important to identify the species.
Termites live in colonies that vary in size, from a few hundred to millions, some species live in mounds above ground, some live underground and some live in mounds in trees. Termites obtain their food from the fungi that grows on timber, usually in moist soil. Subterranean termites obtain their moisture mostly from the soil, but they must have a constant supply of moisture, so therefore they seek out plumbing leaks or faulty roofing.
Good ventilation of subfloor areas reduces moisture and stops the growth of wood fungi, which in turn discourages termites.