SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES (Coptotermes, Macrotermes)
The worker termites measure about 5mm in length, and are a whitish colour, while the soldiers are a similar size but with brown heads and larger mandibles. The winged males and females are larger, measuring about 12-15mm in length, with 4 large veined wings. This species is commonly referred to as ‘white ants’.
BIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOUR:
Subterranean termites create and live in nests, which are, as their name suggests, usually underground. Occasionally, however, they may build nests within buildings. Inside the nests are many workers (that fetch food, feed the immature stages, and construct the nest), but also soldiers (which defend the nest), queens (which lay eggs), and males (which mate with the queen). At the start of the monsoon season, each nest commonly produces many winged males and queens, called Alates, which swarm out of the nest to mate and search for new nesting sites.
The queen lays up to several thousand eggs every day, and can live for 5 years or more. The eggs hatch into termite nymphs, and large nests can eventually contain up to a million termites.
Termites feed only on wood and other cellulose related materials such as dead leaves, paper and cardboard.
MUD TUBES – Check the external footings of the building regularly for mud tubes running along the surface of brickwork or concrete plinths, and check structural timber work for signs of damage or hollowing. The underground nests of these termites are not usually visible at the surface.
For more signs of termites, see our termite control page.
The feeding of termites on timber parts of buildings can cause serious structural damage. At the very least, this may require replacement of window or door frames, and at worst, this could lead to the collapse of timber buildings.
If subterranean termite activity is detected. Call a professional pest control service to inspect and treat as soon as possible, before the infestation spreads to other areas.
For more information about termite prevention and treatment, please see our termite control page.