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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.

Termites and floods

A flood or heavy rain can seriously upset your termite defenses.

If you rely on soil chemical barriers around or under your home, these can be buried by silt and debris making a bridge for the termites.  The chemicals can also be washed out, so when the water goes away, check and organise a termite inspection a few weeks later.

Water that gets into your house (but not out again) tends to soak into timbers.  Termites love to eat timber that's damp.  Fungi (rot) also has a better time and wood that's partly rotted by fungi is often tastier for termites.

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.  

Vale Isoptera. Salve Termitoidae

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One of the horrors of science is that sometimes you have to let go of things that are comfortable, familiar and seem right but are then found to be not the best fit for the evidence.  I can't count the number of updated names of plants and animals that I've had to re-learn, but this one is a big one.

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.

What is a termite swarm?

The really odd thing about a termite swarm is that it is the one time when cooperation goes out the window.  It is every termite for his- or herself.

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.

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