Testing if White Ants Are Present - Termite Trap

Another interesting email conversation about white ants. Here is how it goes…

Ion,

I have a rather smallish tree stump in the back garden and a couple of branches from that tree. I have been using them to hang plants from. A couple of weeks ago half of the stump fell over and when I went to pick it up there were very small white ants at the base. I put it back where it had been, not wanting to disturb them. I had been told by a pest controller some time ago that, left undisturbed in the garden, white ants would be no problem. However, at that same time, he said there was a bit of rubbish under the house that should be removed. I organised for a handyman to do this and he didn’t show but my son was horrified that I was going to pay someone to do this and said he would do it…….and immediately forgot about it.
When I found the ants I checked the internet and found your site as well as a fact sheet from the ABC gardening show. The fact sheet suggested testing if ants were present by planting a couple of toilet rolls in the ground which white ants would infest if there.

So in the first instance, possibly because I was a bit skeptical that your products might look too good to be true (I have been caught before), I dug in a couple of toilet rolls near
the tree stump. Well, I just lifted one up and it is being devoured by these insects.

What should I do?

Jacqui

Hi Jacqui,

A surprising number of times we get the comment that our claims and offer seems too good to be true but we also take it as a compliment that we are proposing something a bit beyond expectations. Now, all we have to do in your case is live up to it. Here goes…

Indirectly, thank you ABC gardening show — the toilet rolls are essentially no different to our Traps in that they are made of wood fiber and our Traps contain real wood. The rolls were placed IN the soil close to the stump and were attacked and if you buy our traps and put them ON THE GROUND directly over where the rolls are/were, you can bet they’ll be just as quickly attacked. The hole in the lid of the Trap being sealed up is your first indication.

Now for the big difference. It is almost impossible to add a Tuckerbag of bait to a toilet roll. It can be done but the risks of disturbance or of garden ants getting in on the act are high. When the hole in the top of the TermiTrap is blocked up it means the termites have already sealed up the entire “brick” around the bottom and the interior is an ant no-go zone. By pushing in the mud blocking the hole and then placing the bag of bait over the hole (there is adhesive on the foil bag which holds it in place and keeps out ants), the termites are not disturbed and begin taking both timber and bait back to kill off the colony wherever it is.

Yes, I know — seems like a script for a how-to-video but that’s what happens if you follow your part of the plot and don’t wobble the Trap or let the tucker run out before the job is complete. (You may need a few tuckerbags, depending on the size of the nest).

A couple of observations: the small stump may actually have the nest with the queen in it below ground level. Or it may not. Could be the nest is somewhere else and the stump is just one of their food sources. Because we don’t know for a certainty, I’d recommend putting 3-4 Traps around the stump area even less than a meter apart. Once the job is done, you can clean out and replace the eaten timber then move them to other parts of your property so you have a “ring of bricks” about 3 meters apart acting as decoy timbers or monitors should there be another nest developing now or in the future.

As for the pest controller’s advice about leaving termites to eat in the garden without a problem, he didn’t read all the text in the textbook. Termites always have at least a couple of food sources and if these sources are smallish, they keep scouting until they have something substantial to eat. The stump may have once been sufficient for their needs but your description indicates it was getting past its use-by date. The next scouting expedition could have found your house — or at least the ‘rubbish under it — and then your house. So, if the rubbish is still there I suggest you find another handyman.

Thank you for your interesting question (and your unintended flattery).

Death to termites!

Ion Staunton
TermiteTrap

PS if you dip a toothpick in some ointment or Vaseline and use it to pick up a soldier with a honey brown head, it will not move while you take its portrait and email it to me for ID or use this form