Why are termites so common in Australia?
Australia is a breeding ground for termites because of its climate and environment. There are at least 300 species of termites in Australia alone. They are one of the most common pests found throughout Sydney and the rest of the country. Unfortunately, termites cost Australians millions of dollars each year due to the damages they cause properties.
Termites are found throughout the year, but swarm during the certain seasons. The common subterranean termites typically come out during spring and summer time. These insects prefer a warm climate and are often found in moist or damp areas. Meanwhile, drywood subterranean termites come out by the end of summer or during fall season.
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Have you ever wondered why termites are so common in Australia? After all, these pesky pests affect nearly one in every five houses in the country, resulting in more than $1.5 billion in property damage each year. So, why are they so prevalent here? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
What Are Termites?
Termites are a type of insect and pest that can cause vast amounts of damage to buildings, furniture, and structural support. They are known for their appetite for eating away at wood and other components of buildings. Unlike other pests, such as rats or ants, which infiltrate a structure from the outside, termites begin within the walls, feeding on cellulose found in wood.
Since they consume wood, they threaten man-made structures such as houses, furniture, wooden boxes, and just about anything containing cellulose, such as wallpaper, books, drywall, and carpet backing. Because of this, most people only become aware of an infestation once it is too late; by then, significant damage has already been done.
Why Are Termites Very Common in Australia?
Termites cause significant damage not only to houses but to commercial structures as well. Why are they so prevalent here?
One of the primary reasons why termites are so common in Australia is climate change. Over the past few decades, average temperatures have risen significantly—particularly during the summer months—which has made it easier for termites to thrive and reproduce. As a result, areas once considered too cold or dry for termite colonies have become prime real estate for them.
Another major reason why termites are such a problem is the type of building materials used in construction projects. Most modern buildings use timber frames, which provide an ideal environment for termites to nest and feed on. Many homes also contain wooden floors or furniture, which these destructive critters can target.
Since the removal of long-lasting soil barrier chemicals in 1995, severe termite damage to Australian homes has increased. Another reason is landscaping and maintenance, which encourage termite activity and allow for hidden termite entry and infestation into a structure.
Changes in Farming Practices
Finally, changes in farming practices over the past few decades have also contributed to the prevalence of termites in Australia. Many farmers use crops like sugarcane and cotton as fodder for their livestock, which requires large amounts of nitrogen-rich fertilizer to grow properly. Unfortunately, this fertilizer attracts termites, which then move from the farm into nearby residential areas looking for more food sources.
The Termite Population in Australia
In Australia, there are currently over 350 species of termites, with approximately 40 being invasive and destructive. Their exact numbers are difficult to estimate, but most estimates agree that they must be in the trillions.
A single colony of these pests can have a population of over one million individual insects, with the queen living up to 15 years in most species and up to 50 years in others. Worker termites, who look after the queen, can live for up to six years, while each year, approximately 60,000 alates (termites with wings) leave the parent colony to mate and establish new colonies. Each year, a single colony can produce several other colonies.
Which Areas in Australia are Prone to Termite Infestations?
Termites are a problem in both urban and rural Australia. The country’s most heavily infested areas are typically along the coast, with warm and humid climates. This creates ideal conditions for termites, which can quickly multiply in these areas.
Soft targets include urban areas where buildings are made of softwood or Oregon timber framing. Termites also prefer places with a high concentration of gum trees.
What Should You Do to Prevent Termite Infestation?
There are several reasons why termites are so common in Australia. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent them from infiltrating your home or business premises — such as regularly inspecting your property for any signs of infestation and treating any vulnerable spots with protective sealants or foams before they become an issue. (Check our termite control service.)
If you discover termites in or around your property, do not disturb them. Immediately contact your local termite specialist for an inspection of the property and advice on the available protective measures.
To protect your property from common pests, we recommend that you read our guide. Join our mailing list and get our FREE pest guide!