What Are Termites? (often called white ants)

April 1, 2022

You’ve probably heard about termites before. Those pesky little insects that chew their way through wood and cause significant damage to homes all around Australia. But technically speaking, what are termites and what are the different types? We’ve outlined everything you need to know about termites below, but if you have any questions, please speak to our expert pest control team.

What are termites?

Termites are small insects that range in size from ¼ and ½ an inch long. They are soft bodied, vary in colour and live in colonies. Members of a colony are divided into classes known as castes which perform different roles in the colony.

These insects build large nests and feed on cellulose, commonly found in wood, leaves, cardboard, wood chips and so on. They can also become a serious problem for homeowners because they can cause structural damage and they often go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Termites are also known as “white ants”, but while they may look similar, they differ in behaviour, diet and characteristics. If you’re unsure whether you’re dealing with an ant or termite problem, speak to a termite or ant pest control expert at Pest Aid.

What are the different types of termites?

There are over 2,000 species of termites worldwide, but they can typically be divided into three groups: drywood termites, dampwood termites and subterranean termites.

What are drywood termites?

Drywood termites feed on dry, undecayed wood, which means they’re commonly found in fallen tree limbs, timber used in building structures and furniture. They’re also an above the ground species that prefer dry conditions.

What are dampwood termites?

As their name suggests, dampwood termites love humid and damp environments. They feed on wood with high moisture content. This species is also larger in size than drywood and subterranean termites.

What are subterranean termites?

Subterranean termites live in underground nests and use tunnels to transport, these are the type that cause most of the damage to homes and other structures, they store eggs and forage for food. Their colonies can be huge, and since they’re underground, can often go unnoticed for some time.

What are flying termites?

Flying termites are termites with wings! When the conditions are right, winged termites (also known as alates), will take flight and go on to breed and create new termite colonies.

Signs of termites

Now you know the answer to “what are termites”, it’s important you’re aware of the signs of termites. Termites will nest in places that fulfil their specific food and shelter needs, which means some are found in moist environments while others prefer dry.

Look out for the following signs of a termite infestation in your home:

  • Mud tunnels and mud spotting
  • Peeling paint
  • Hollow sounding wood
  • Swarms of flying insects outdoors
  • Tight fitting doors and hard-to-open windows
  • Discarded insect wings
  • Visibly damaged wood

What damage can termites cause?

Termite damage can be extensive and costly if it happens without you realising. Termites forage on cellulose found in wood. As a result, they damage any wooden component or structures of your home. This means there could be structural damage such as sagging floors or buckling walls, damage to wooden patios and decks or damage to wooden doors.

If you suspect you have a termite problem, get in touch with Pest Aid immediately to book in a termite inspection. Our termite control team are experts in termite behaviour and will determine if you have an infestation quickly and efficiently. In the event there are termites present, our technicians will create and implement a termite treatment plan. And if you have any questions related to “what are termites”, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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