Termites can be a problem in Australia. Just the word can strike fear into the heart of any homeowner, and the last thing a new homeowner wants to hear is that they’ve got a termite problem. Removing the pests from a home once they’ve built a colony is difficult and best left to professionals. But there are steps homeowners can take to prevent the insects from taking up residence in the first place.

All About Termites

Termites are subterranean, small, whitish insects that resemble ants. They eat wood and are attracted to warm and humid conditions, which is why they are drawn to certain buildings in Australia. They are most active between early spring and late summer. Colonies can be up to several million in number and have both a king and a queen who are the only two that reproduce, but the queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day. Australian species are the most destructive in the world, costing homeowners millions of dollars every year in repairs and replacement.

Preventing Termites

The best way to prevent these damaging pests from getting into a house is to make the area unattractive to them. You can do this in several ways:

* Remove the food source. Wood is a food source for the insects, so keep waste timber well away from the house. They have been known to travel up to 100m to get to a food source. They’re attracted to any kind of wood, even old stumps or garden decorations. Look for termite-resistant products when building a home or adding a wooden structure to your yard. Wood may be treated to resist the bugs or be one of several naturally resistant hardwoods in the country. Naturally resistant woods vary in their levels of resistance but include: Red bloodwood, Spotted gum, White mahogany, Australian cypress, and Jarrah. It is especially important to use resistant or treated wood close to the soil surface or underground.

* Keep things dry. Leaky pipes create a wet and humid environment, which the insects love. Fix leaks and make sure the subfloors of the house are well-ventilated and drain properly. Remove anything that could create humid conditions around the foundation of the structure.

* Create barriers. If they can’t chew or move through it, they can’t get in. Concrete is an excellent barrier and is widely used in new construction to provide protection from the subterranean pests, but it can be hard to retrofit onto an older building. Metal and crushed rock can be used as a barrier too. Insecticides are another option, but these have to be applied by a licensed pest controller.

* Inspect the home. Regular inspections once or twice a year, during times of heavy activity like spring and summer, will help you learn what’s normal for your home and what is not. This can help homeowners identify areas that are rotting or becoming weak, or even catch the invaders before they do too much damage.

What To Do If You Find Termites

If you’re unfortunate enough to find termites in or around your home, call a professional pest controller. They’ll be able to determine if they really are termites or if they are some other type of insect, and they can provide you with options for removal.

Protecting your new house from termites isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Now that you know what to look for – warmth, wetness, and wood – you can take steps to keep things dry and head off problems before they start.