Kill termites and white ants without poisons
This bloke was the first in the world to create a DIY termite control system. Thousands of Aussie homeowners are using this advice and products. They’re getting the job done themselves, and saving money.START HERE Australia’s foremost expert on termites and white ants Ion Staunton is an entomologist, former pest technician, TAFE teacher and textbook author.
I have received this email from a new customer who lives in a mud brick house. Hello Ion, Thank you for this note. I read your guide before ordering. A couple of years ago the local village hall was attacked by termites in the hardwood flooring and the walls. We had...read more
During the construction of buildings, physical and sometimes chemical barriers are used against termites. In a sense, they are not barriers that stop termites getting into a building; the fine difference is that they stop termites getting into a building unseen...read more
I had an interesting email from a couple in WA who had some questions about signs of termites in a coolroom. Here is the email exchange. “Termites have attacked a cardboard box on top of a wardrobe in this building and have ventured out into mid air with their...read more
A question from Peter: Does a mixture of diesel and sump oil poured around the perimeter of a building would work against termites, and how long would it last? As far as I can tell, Termite companies rely on ignorance and fear to make their money, but on that score...read more
White ants – or termites – do upwards of a billion dollars’ worth of damage to homes every year Entomologist Ion Staunton looks at the foraging habits of white ants, and how householders can use these instincts against them. It’s nothing personal. The reason...read more
The Australian home-owner is chiefly concerned with two termite species. Known as Coptos and Schedos, they are avid munchers of timber constructions, but their natural habitat takes the form of a nest built usually in a decaying tree or tree stump. Because we cannot...read more
How do white ants/termites find Termite Traps?
They send out scouts to find wood and, there is very attractive wood inside a Termite Trap. (The one recommended by CSIRO). TermiteTraps are designed to be placed up on the ground rather than be buried in it. For millions of years, there has always has been more wood above ground level than under it, so the acquired habit of scouts is to go out above ground level to find timber. Another survival habit: termites do not rely on just one food source. They are constantly seeking supplementary food sources. Too many times there have been flash floods and bushfires or dinosaurs/mammoths have moved their main meal. To survive, multiple feeding sites became a necessity. And, so it continues… The short answer: the more TermiteTraps you have placed around your home, above the ground where termite scouts are looking, the sooner and more likely you are to intercept scouts.
Do monitors attract termites to my house?
No. Termite scouts find monitors you have placed adjacent to your home simply because they were already there looking about. It could be argued that if they hadn’t found the Trap, they may have kept looking further and found a way inside.
My house is only three years old. It must have been built to meet Codes including termite preventive measures, and anyway, isn’t there a seven-year builder’s warranty to cover me?
Yes. And yes. Building codes, in essence, aim to ensure termites cannot enter unseen into a structure. Codes do not expect to prevent termites getting into a building, the aim is to make termite attack routes visible on the way in. Think of those old ant caps that were/are placed on piers and stumps. Termites cannot get through the metal; they have to build out around and over them where their tunnel can be seen — as long as someone goes looking. Requiring an annual inspection is almost the first paragraph of most Codes). Builders guarantees are full of loop holes. The pest control company only gives the builder a piece of paper to say they applied or installed chemical or other barriers to the appropriate Code. If you haven’t kept up the annual termite inspection (by the nominated pest company) your warrantee is void and there’s nowhere to go.
If termites are already in my house can I use Termite Traps to entice them out?
Not a good idea. It takes time for scouts to find a TermiteTrap outside and then more time for the ‘construction team’ to build a tunnel to it. Then even more time to bait them. During all that time, they are still hollowing out the timbers in your house. If you can find termites busy eating timbers such as skirting boards, window or door frames, it is best to directly bait them right away. Here’s the link to text and illustrations explaining the process.
What are the dimensions of a TermiteTrap?
They are just less than the size of a house brick: 190mm x 90mm x 80mm high.
Is it legal for homeowners to buy and use your bait?
The Colony Killer Termite Bait is approved by the APVMA in Canberra (the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) for use by homeowners.
I’ve read about ‘serious’ and ‘nuisance’ termite species. How can I tell the difference?
I’m very wary of generalising, but here is an attempt to simplify, hoping you’ll recognise that in nature there are exceptions to human ‘rules’. There are 300+ termite species in Australia. Only about 10 or so species, the so-called ‘serious’ ones, contribute significantly to Australia’s annual $billion+ damage bill. These species come from just three genera (plural of genus): Coptotermes, Schedorhinotermes and Mastotermes, (Coptos, Schedos and Mastos.) The Mastos are found mainly north of the Tropic of Capricorn (between Rockhampton and Exmouth) and they are big — 13-16mm long. No other solid-wood eating termite is this big. The geography and size quickly rules them in or out as a threat to your home. The Coptos and Schedos are found all over the continent and they specialise in eating solid wood such as in our structures. Which means they definitely are a threat. The rest of the 300+ are ‘nuisances’ because they are either leaf-litter, grass, or decaying wood eaters and they usually build mounds. No one wants to live with a termite mound nearby so even the couple of species of the pointy-headed Nasutes (Nasutitermes) that will eat solid timber are easily destroyed by breaking open their mound. We have a free ID Service and there is also a section in this website that gives you some visual clues on the differences.
How do termites get into the Trap?
The bottom is mostly open apart from a ledge to keep the timber slats from falling through. There are also a couple of small holes at the bottom in the back wall. Traps can be placed flat on a concrete path against a wall over the expansion joint. These joints often open up over time (weeds growing there are a good indicator) allowing termite scouts up to snoop about and find their way through those back holes to the timber inside the Trap.
My house was built more than twenty years ago and there has been no termite attack, why would I bother putting monitors around?
The CSIRO produced a Termite Risk Map showing almost all areas of the mainland states of Australia are of Moderate to High Risk. The tiny sliver of land along the Great Ocean Road in south western Victoria is about the only Low Risk area. Which means there are serious termites near you. Annual flights of termites occur in late spring, early summer. Most are unsuccessful in establishing a nest — but some do. Ever seen flying termites at dusk at your place? Twenty years without an attack can be looked at two ways: you’ve been lucky, or, on the law of averages your luck is due to run out. Your decision rests on weighing up the cost of say $440 for 22 Traps that will last for at least 10 years; put them around as ‘sentries’ for an early warning system. That is not a lot of outlay to maybe save you $thousands in repairs. Your choice.
I understand termites can do $50,000 plus in damage to a house in a short time. Doing something about the termite threat is obviously sensible, however, aren’t chemical barriers better value, even though more costly than termite monitors?
Barriers installed during construction are one thing; barriers re-applied are different. You can’t jack up a building and start again. Holes drilled in slabs and tiled areas are injected to make interconnecting ‘puddles’ of insecticide underneath. If there is a soil crack below the slab, thousands of litres of pesticide could just disappear without puddling. If there has been some subsidence and there is a space under the slab, the puddles may well join up but the termites may be tunnelling upside down on the undersurface of the slab where the pesticide doesn’t reach them. Sure, these are less likely examples, but here is another point to ponder: every year about 130,000 -150,000 houses in Australia are attacked by termites. Every time this happens, (and you see it all too often on TV news programs) termites have come up from the ground, crossed or bridged over barriers and done the damage. Every time. A barrier treatment can cost a couple of thousand dollars and lasts about 10 years before you need to do it again; a carton of Traps costs $440 and are guaranteed to last at least 10 years and, if you get a strike and successfully bait the termites, the Traps can be reused by adding more new timber. You can do the maths.
What is a nest?
If there’s a queen, that’s a nest. The most recognisable nests are mounds rising up out of the ground. Serious termites usually nest in hollow trees or invisibly below soil level. There are often mud masses found under floors or between studs inside walls. Most often these masses are re-hydration areas where termites can recover from the drying out that occurs if they are too long away from moisture. Physically removing, destroying or spraying such masses will kill thousands of termites but, if the nest is underground some distance away, the access to that mass is sealed off by workers still in the safe zone below and away from the mayhem you’ve caused. The nest survives to come back from another direction. A mature queen can be laying a thousand or more eggs every day. It doesn’t take long for the numbers to rebuild. Read more about killing nests in trees, stumps and mounds.
We have lots of ants which we know are the enemy of termites. Do we still have a termite problem?
Yes. Termites are masters at excluding ants from their nests, their tunnels and the wood they are eating. They’ve been doing it since ants evolved. (Termites were here before ants).
Won’t dogs or kids move the Traps?
If you place the Termite Traps around the house with the dog locked in the garage or the car where it can’t see you put the Traps down, there is no reason for the dog to believe they are a movable plaything. When you let the pooch loose, some investigatory sniffing may occur but as it doesn’t play back, the Trap will probably be ignored. In all our trials and after all the cartons we’ve sent out, only one dog story has come back to us. (The Trap was placed inside the dog pen). As for kids? They are supposed to leave things alone if they are told, so tell them. After all, you have your home investment to protect.
Is there a guarantee?
Yes (and no). Yes. If when you receive the product, you change your mind or have second thoughts that it is not what you expected, you can return to us for a full refund — no arguments from us. Just phone to say it’s coming back and to arrange the repayment details. No. we don’t guarantee results that we cannot control such as where you placed them and how you baited them or, whether you misinterpreted instructions. And it is very difficult to prove in court (many have tried) whether termites were already inside a structure before monitors were put in place.