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Termites have existed for approximately 100 million years. There are about 350 species in Australia, of which approximately 30 species are known to cause significant damage to timber and buildings. Most damage is caused by subterranean termites (those that form nests in the ground). These nests may be formed in the soil near ground level, in stumps, the trunks of living trees, or other suitable timber/wood products such as sleeper retaining walls. A single colony may last many years and the population of an individual nest can run into millions.

All attacks by subterranean termites originate from the nest. They reach their food source by foraging underground or by building mud shelter tubes called galleries when above ground. Attack by termites is not restricted to below ground, and in some cases where there is a source of permanent moisture, such as leaking plumbing, available to them, they may nest within the building without contact with the soil.

Termites will eat anything that contains cellulose. They will eat timber and timber based products found in floors, walls, roofs, cupboards, skirting, architraves and furniture. As well, they will attack carpet, fabrics, paper and cardboard. They even eat the backing paper off plasterboard linings.

Information Courtesy Mike Harding, Member of Australian Building Codes Board’s Building Codes Committee.

See also Termite protection for your home

See also Termites and regulatory requirements

See also Termite management systems

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