Warm winter = white ants

Thanks to a series of ideal weather events, the termite (or white ant) population is set to “explode”, according to Josh Arentz, termite expert and owner of Southern Star Inspections.

“We’ve had a tropical winter in Sydney and that’s the perfect weather for white ants. They like warm, humid weather because it mirrors the climate in their nest (27 – 35 degrees and moist), allowing them to fly freely and find new homes to build nests to expand their population. Each nest is home to up to one million white ants,” Mr Arentz said.

Houses close to bushland are especially termite prone because termites build their nest in trees and tree stumps and they look for food sources nearby. The average home has wood in its construction or in the furniture inside. Both provide the ideal meal for white ants.

Research from the CSIRO earlier this year shows that one in three homes is susceptible to white ant attack and termites cause more damage to homes in Australia than fire, floods and storms combined. Mr Arentz said there were 27 different types of termites in Sydney that can damage your home, and they tunnel from their tree or ground nest into your property.

“If you have stored timber underneath or next to your property you are sending an invitation to termites to move right on in. Poor drainage and damp issues can encourage a visit from them as well. Termites are attracted to wet areas as they need the moisture for the tubes in their nests.

“Often you can identify termites by looking for bulging or warped walls, clumps of fine mud where it should not be, and of course wood that looks like it is decaying.”

He also said that large numbers of the most common type of white ant can be harmful to humans and animals due to the Napholene it secretes from its head as a defense mechanism. Exposure to a large quantity of Napholene can be toxic. 

To protect your home and health against white ants Josh Arentz recommended the following steps:

  1. Physical – create a physical barrier to stop the termites getting in when building or renovating
  2. Cultural – remove the reasons the termites will want to get in ie. moisture, food (wood)
  3. Chemical – use a termiticide (non-toxic to humans and animals) or termite baiting system

“If you already have a termite problem you should reverse these steps, so that you start with the chemical treatment that kills the white and and their nests,” he said.

If you stored timber under or next to your house you're sending an invitation to termites to move right in.

Josh Arentz, Southern Star Inspections
"If something does not look right you should call a professional termite inspector straight away. Why risk your biggest asset for the sake of a few dollars?” Mr Arentz said.

"If something does not look right you should call a professional termite inspector straight away. Why risk your biggest asset for the sake of a few dollars?” Mr Arentz said.

This story Warm winter = white ants first appeared on St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.