The flight of the termite—in the nation’s capital
Many Canberrans are shocked to learn the ACT has a growing termite problem, and it’s one that should not be ignored. Indeed, just last week a major termite flight took place inside a Canberra home, with the termites determined to find a place to build a nest.
The CSIRO recommends that houses be inspected for termites at a minimum annually. These pests—the most destructive in the world—can quickly and quietly munch through a house causing many thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. An annual termite inspection costs as little as $247 and can save owners a small fortune.
‘Termites are increasingly active here,’ says Bruce Cohen, a qualified building and timber pest inspector with Surety Property, a division of Surety Property Group, and an accredited consultant with the Master Builders Association. ‘We see them most weeks when inspecting Canberra homes, with many owners distressed to learn their house, fences or landscaping timbers are affected. The change in weather patterns over time in the ACT has contributed to a rise in termite activity every year since we started working here in 2005.’
In the incident last week, Bruce says a property manager called Surety Property after an alarming call from a tenant who thought they had a bunch of bugs flying in their house. It ended up being a huge flight of termites that had burst through an internal wall and had damaged the structure.
So how do you get on top of a potential termite problem?
‘The only way to be sure is to use a professional Termite Specialist who has a trained eye,’ says Bruce. ‘Termites are very hard to see and can be difficult to find, but in as little as three months they can severely damage almost all the timber in your property. You need ongoing annual checks to keep on top of matters.’
Here are some signs of termite infestation:
- Mud leads, which are tunnels made of mud. They usually appear on the outside of your house, subfloor, or roof void, including on brickwork or concrete. Termites travel through these tunnels.
- Timber with gaps and holes that crumbles when touched.
- Damaged wood, especially when the wood makes a dull thud when you strike it with something hard, such as a hammer or your vacuum cleaner.
- Swarms of what look like ants flying in and around your house.
With a professional inspection, make sure you ask how the inspection will be performed and remember that it should take any quality inspector a minimum 1.5 hours to work carefully through a three-bedroom home.
‘This is not a process that should be rushed,’ says Bruce. ‘You need the inspector to assess current termite activity, any damage, the history of activity and risks. You may also need a detailed management plan to deal with identified risks.’