How monitors or trapping works
TermiteTraps are monitors, placed around buildings so foraging termites can easily discover them. The more Traps used, the more likely and sooner termite scouts will find them. When they do, the Tassie oak timber is very attractive to Coptos,
Termite damage to buildings is the result of them coming up out of the soil in their constant search for additional food sources. By placing TermiteTraps on surfaces above soil level, they are found faster compared to monitors buried IN the soil because that’s where termite scouts go ‘looking’. As TermiteTraps can be put on pavers and the expansion joints in concrete, the building can be surrounded. In-ground monitors can only be placed in lawns and gardens.
The TermiteTrap bonus is — no digging!
The on-ground claim is scientifically backed. Trials in the USA showed that 30 monitors placed on the ground were discovered before any of 30 monitors buried in the ground were discovered. Trials in Brisbane showed that TermiteTraps placed on the ground were attacked before any of the professional in-ground monitors were attacked. Some of the in-ground monitors were attacked later on. You’d expect that. After all, the professionals have been successfully using in-ground monitors for about 15 years.
The TermiteTrap is designed with its base open to the ground and a hole is purposely left open in the top lid. Once termites have arrived, their arrival signal is instinctive: they immediately block up the hole in the lid to conserve humidity and keep the ants out. You can notice this mud blockage as you walk past. No need to kneel, stoop — or stop. Placed about 3m apart on the surface of the garden, over the gaps in pavers, over expansion joints in concrete slabs and paths, you will always be able to find them. Being made of UV protected polypropylene, the Traps are guaranteed to last for 10 years but greenies will say they could last for 20.
Inspecting your home
Why? Aren’t the building codes enough protection?
Nobody should trust barriers OR outside monitors to be failsafe.
Every time you see a TV news program where the usual footage shows damaged timber being crumpled up, hundreds of scurrying termites, a woman weeping and a concerned pest-man talking to the camera —it is because a barrier failed to keep termites out.
If you read the preamble for all the building Codes of Practice, the Australian NZ Standards, etc., they all say the use of the barrier is not to prevent entry but to ensure the termites have to expose themselves to get into the building. Meaning they have to build their mud tunnels out in the open where they can be seen during a regular inspection.
So you must inspect.
But just in case termites have already found a way inside but haven’t done enough damage to be discovered yet, you should inspect your home or have it inspected.
Can you do a good inspection?
Probably. If your home is built on a slab, meaning no crawling underfloor, and if the roof void is insulated or sarked, what can a professional see that you can’t? They don’t move heavy furniture, they don’t shift the kids’ mess in built-in wardrobes or shift stuff in the linen press —but you might, because it is your home.
And, you can do your inspection in the first week of spring and/or the first week of autumn when it’s not too hot up in a roof (or too cold under the house if you have a suspended floor).
Inspection is like detective work; deductions of motive and opportunity. You know the termites come from the soil and work upwards. Once they get inside, all the timbers join up; studs to noggins to architraves to ceiling battens and roof trusses.
How to do your own termite inspection.
You’ll be looking for termite ‘mud’ and listening as you tap around for that hollow sound where termites have eaten all but the paint on the surface. These photos may help.
The things to remember are: the subterranean termites will be coming from the soil and when they leave
This ‘mud’ you’ll be looking for comes in the form of tunnels over impervious surfaces (or timber they’d rather not eat) or to pack up splits, cracks, grooves
Termites are more likely to come from soil that is damp. That probably means your garden, a low area or depression, maybe the South side where the sun doesn’t dry the soil out, or maybe near a water tank, an air conditioning condensation outlet, etc.
Apart from looking for ‘mud’, you will need to look out for timber surfaces (painted or not) that are uneven or wavy and distorted. You will also be using your ears. Running a tool over a timber surface gives you a sound you will quickly
Also using your ears, tapping can produce a reaction from soldiers inside the timber which sounds a little like the ratchet of an
The Termite Inspection Process
Outside: Poke about in your garden moving the top layers of mulch and leaf litter. Look at plant stakes, fences, wooden steps, retaining walls, posts, wooden seats and you should tilt or lift plant pots (
If you have a concrete slab-on-ground floor, now is the time to check every
The tunnels if any, will probably follow the mortar joint between the bricks, or if no bricks…straight up and in. If plants such as mondo grass, creepers or other ground covers are blocking your view, it is time to cut them back or get out the glyphosate (Zero, Roundup) and kill them —your house is at stake!
Look for possible ‘bridges’ that allow termites to traverse across from soil to the building. These bridges take many forms: pergolas, pool pump screens
Inside: Start at the front door and begin tapping the architraves and skirting boards. With a torch in one hand shining along the timbers, it is easier to detect uneven surfaces in an oblique light. Keep going right (or left) tapping or running your tapper/putter and your screwdriver along every
The Roof: If you haven’t found termites by now, you may feel it a waste of time and energy to go up
Because it’s your house. And your $thousands in repair costs if termites have gone straight up the studs into the roof without hollowing out the interior
Sure you won’t excavate every ceiling joist or rafter from the insulation, but you can crawl/walk/clamber along and shine your torch along the trusses looking for mud tunnels or mud packing in the joints, particularly over the bathrooms, laundry
You can have great chemical and physical barriers; you can have a double ring of monitors all around your backyard and yes, you may have already killed off a colony or several, but believe me, since Captain Arthur Phillip had his first tent pegs eaten by termites in 1888, termites have found a million ways to get to wood in Australian structures.
Inspecting at least once, preferably twice a year, will give you a great chance to find evidence before a door falls off or a broom goes through a skirting board. If you live in the temperate to tropical areas of Australia, I suggest you inspect during the first week of spring and the first week of autumn, because it is not as hot up in the roof and not freezing underneath. Also, if you find termite galleries, they are more likely to be occupied. Hot timbers in a roof may be vacated during the day when you inspect and you’ll miss out on possibly hearing their return tapping.
Now you have the knowledge you need to defend your home.
Termite scouts are good at what they do. It’s hard to comprehend how they find timber to eat in a house that is many
- A steel framed house. The homeowner used a single piece of pine to slightly lower the lintel above an interior doorway. Two years later, termites had found it and eaten it out.
- A double brick house with
metalwindow and door frames (no timber wall frames). The only timber was in the roof 3 metresup from the concrete. They found it, thank you very much.
- Termites found and ate the pine timber handles of a handbag hanging on the back of a door that was always open against the wall. They’d tracked across to it from the doorframe.
Want a couple of hundred more examples?
Termites find their way
Making your home a small target
You can make your home a smaller target.What is feasible for you depends on whether you live on acreage, a suburban block, a townhouse or terrace. The type of construction used provides a difference. You may be able to use some of these suggestions:
- Treat any trees that may be hollow and within at least 50
- Same for mounds in the ground or those in trees that you can reach.
- Remove or put up on racks all timber you need to keep. The racks allow you to see any tunnels going up into the timber
- Firewood should be kept either on a concrete slab or on a patch of insecticidally treated soil so you can observe if termites tunnel up over the edge of the slab. Or, they have to find a gap in the layer of treated soil under the pile.
- Keep the edge of the house slab clear so you can see any tunnel —which means no soil, mulch, grass or garden plants to obscure your view.
- If yours is a suspended floor, the temptation is to store stuff under the house. That’s OK, but always keep things away from the piers/stumps and the foundation walls so you can see.
Actuallyit is not OK to store timber,or cardboard cartons of books or old tax papers. Paper and cardboard are cellulose —same as wood. Add onsor extensions to buildings increase the incidence of termite attack unless you have ensured there are no unprotected gaps between the new slab and the original. Granny flats, rumpus rooms, a veranda, a pergola, a cubby house, a dog kennel or a pump house or pump-screen —these additions may provide a bridge across otherwise effective barriers.
- Everyone, including us, mentions
weepholesin the brick or block external walls as an easy entry point. It happens, but not anywhere near as often as you might think. Plugging up these holes with nylon flyscreen mesh will stop the scouts getting inside to see what they might find. Sure, termites sometimes eat electrical conduit and cable insulation when they are feeding on timber, but the scout is not going to waste time chewing its way through a nylon-plugged weephole.
- Provide termite scouts with a food source that is easy for them to find which then doubles as a baiting point once you know they have arrived.
We’re biased. We believe that placing termite traps as decoys around buildings where there is little or no alternate timber is your most cost/effective action to intercept scouts. When the termite ‘tunnelling crew’ arrive, the Trap is easy to seal to control humidity, including the instinctive sealing of the hole in the lid to let you know that it is time to begin baiting. We’ve even designed it so the baiting is done without having to open the Trap and risk disturbing them.