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An Intro

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In Brief

This is a general guide to termites.  It is aimed at helping people with pest issues, as an introduction for students and a resource for the just plain curious (like me and possibly, you). 

Not really Don

Disclaimer

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Please read this document fully and with due care. No purchase necessary but donations always welcome. This product is meant for educational purposes only. Dr Don and the service provider make no assurances whatsoever as to the accuracy, quality or appropriateness of the information provided in Dr Don's Termite Pages. Use this information at your own risk.

Are white ants the same as termites?

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Yes.  "White ant" is a wrong name for termites.  Termites are not white (cream is as pale as they ever get) and they are very different to ants.  Ants belong with bees and wasps whereas termites are really social cockroaches (did you just shudder?).  Please don't say "white ant" unless you were born before 1950, have really bad eyesight or have to so as not to cause offence.

Repairs first or termites first?

Should we demolish part of the house that's got termites in it?

First up, the answer depends on what type of termites are creating the problem. If they are drywoods, then maybe knocking things down will kill them, but if these are subterranean termites then definitely not. Drywoods live in small colonies, usually in individual pieces of timber, so a thoughtful demolition may effectively remove active colonies. Subterraneans, don't, they like to spread out through the structure and will have paths to ground (for water).  They will just go to ground at the first vibrations and come back up later to resume the attack somewhere else.

Dr Don's cut-down CV

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Dr Don Ewart

Consulting Entomologist
Victoria, Australia

Personal

Donald McGregor Ewart BSc(Hons), PhD.  

Background

Ecologist/Entomologist with broad experience in industry, research with CSIRO, government bodies & universities.  Extensive experience teaching urban pest management, providing solutions for stakeholders and developing Australian Standards.  

So you've found termites

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OK, so you've found termites.  Here's a quick step guide of what to do.

How can I stop termites eating the seedlings / trees / herbs I have planted?

Not long after planting, they're nearly dead from termites eating the roots.

In some parts of the world, particularly parts of Africa and Asia, termites will quickly attack and kill transplanted trees and plants.  They attack the roots.  In the past, some very heavy doses of scary pesticides have been used to help the plants get established.  The attacks seem to drop off once the plants have been in for a few months. Keeping the plants well-watered all the time can make a big difference as water-stressed plants are more readily attacked.

How do termites taste?

  1. Sort of nutty, especially if fried.  You might need to try more than one . . .
  2. They have taste receptors a bit like us and like us, they get a lot of their taste sensation from what they can sniff. (Don't believe me?  Blindfold a volunteer.  Hold a freshly cut slice of apple under the nose.  They'll happily munch a piece of raw potato thinking it to be apple)

Are strawbale buildings safe from termites?

Very few termites are likely to be interested in eating the straw bales themselves.  Lots of subterranean termites will happily travel through the bales to reach unprotected framing timbers (such as door frames and window lintels). 

You won't sit the bales right on the soil anyway (moisture hazard) so all it takes is some attention to design to put a termite barrier in the foundation, just as you would with any other block house design.

If you've already built without barriers, find a well-skilled termite manager to inspect and advise.

What about orange oil for drywood termites?

Orange oil is the name given to extracts from the peel of citrus.  Mostly this is near pure d-limonene.  It is a general solvent.  You have probably used it in bathroom or hand cleaners.  It kills insects.  I used it as the recommended cleanup solvent for the Blockaid non-toxic termite barrier as it was much less of an OH&S risk than mineral turpentine.

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