Warm winter welcomes white ant infestation

The termite population in the Sutherland Shire and St George areas is set to ‘‘explode’’ because of a series of ideal weather events, a local pest inspection company says.

Termites, commonly known as white ants, have been tricked into thinking spring, which is their breeding season,  arrived early and so their numbers are starting to swell rapidly.

Josh Arentz, termite expert and owner of Southern Star Inspections said the mild winter in Sydney has been 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,’’ Mr Arentz said.

‘‘The warm weather is set to continue which means a termite population explosion is likely.”

Mr Arentz said any wet weather will see the breeding cycle kick-started, and swarms of termites will be seen in the air and secretly tunnelling into properties.

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.

The Sutherland Shire and St George areas are termite prone due to their proximity to bushland. 

Termites build their nest in trees and tree stumps and they look for food sources nearby. 

Mr Arentz said there are 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,’’ he said. ‘‘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. 

‘‘I treated a home in Gymea recently that had a termite in infestation in the back of a wooden chair. It was chewed through by white ants and they built a bridge of mud to the wall. If something does not look right you should call a professional termite inspector straight away.’’

Mr Arentz offered the following tips to prevent a termite attack on your home:

  • Physical: create a physical barrier to stop the termites getting in when building or renovating 
  • Cultural: remove the reasons the termites will want to get in ie. moisture, food (wood)
  • 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.

A trained pest control professional should be called to address all termite issues.