Termites are small social insects which live in colonies often containing millions of individuals. Although they are known as ‘white ants’ termites are in fact more closely related to cockroaches.
Termites feed on the cellulose found in plant material and wood, including the wood in your home.
They can be grouped into three main types depending on their life style and the environment in which they live.
One group lives on dry timber and gains its moisture from the wood it feeds on. Another group lives on damp rotting timber while the largest and most invasive group lives under the ground. These are subterranean termites and the most likely to attack your home.
There are many types of termite nests. Some are completely underground (subterranean) while others are above ground. These include all the mounds of various types on the surface right through to colonies up in trees.
Nearly all colonies include at least three main types of termites known as ‘castes’.
Workers do the majority of wood processing, building of the nest, caring for eggs and larvae and feeding other castes who cannot feed themselves. They are sterile and blind.
Soldiers are responsible for defending the colony and can be recognised by their bigger coloured heads. They have to be fed by workers and are also sterile and blind.
Royalty or Alates have eyes and functioning reproductive systems. They are winged and swarm at certain times of the year. It is these which mate and produce new colonies. Alates are a good indication of termite infestation as they swarm in large numbers.