They’re plastering my fence!
These are probably Heterotermes which are more interested in the fungus growing on the surface of timber such as paling fences, sleepers in retaining walls, etc. They come from the soil and they certainly have been known to find a way inside a house through weepholes. They seldom get into an outside monitor and the Colony Killer Termite Bait is of little use as they don’t build a substantial nest. Probably the easiest way to kill them is to brush of the plastered ‘mud’ mixture and spray the area with a bifenthrin solution made from a concentrate bought from your local hardware store. Bifenthrin comes in various trade names. They are however, poisons and you should read the label for dilution and safety directions. You should also apply a high volume along the line where the fence touches the ground and particularly around the posts. This is best done with a watering can so there is no droplet drift and the soil is saturated. The residue in the soil will last for about 5 years.
And, because you can’t be sure you’ve actually killed the nest by destroying thousands of soldiers and workers, you should inspect the area every 3 months for the next year. Re-do if necessary.
You can use our Photo ID service to help you in identifying your termites.
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Treating termites in mounds, in the ground – or up in trees.
Termites that build mounds are subterranean but not included in the termites that do 99% of the $damage to homes. This is because mounds are very visible, not tolerated around buildings and it is very easy to kill these colonies by physically destroying the mound. If you are on an acreage property, make it your rule not to allow any mounds to develop within 200 metres of a building or other structure. If you live in suburbia and there are no mounds in your backyard, take a surreptitious glance over your fences to see if the neighbours have mounds. A 50 metre travel to your home would not be out of the question.
Use a crowbar, a pick/mattock to break open the top/sides.
The outer is often very hard. The less dense and crumbly interior is easier to break. The queen and the nursery are at the base of the mound and if you can’t physically get down there, use 20-30 litres of the dilute insecticidal mixture of a chlorpyrifos or a bifenthrin concentrate which can be purchased from a local hardware store. They may be known by various brand names but the active ingredients are on the front panel of the label. Although not highly toxic, they are poisons and you should read the label for dilution and safety directions.
Using a watering can/bucket, pour at least 20-30 litres solution down into the mound. It’s more important to use high volume than a making it stronger. You want it to percolate all the way down to the bottom to kill off the queen. The colony will be re-built in weeks if you don’t.
There is not much need to do anything about those big brown nests up in the branches of trees.
These termites are either feeding on the decaying interior of the tree or they build tunnels down the outside which then radiate out in many directions (often on top of the ground) to grass and leaf litter. If you can easily reach the nest, physically destroy is as for mounds built built on the ground, otherwise you can keep breaking their tunnels and maybe spray bifenthrin around the base of the tree to eventually ‘starve’ them out. If in your view, any termite is a bad termite, you could get an arborist to climb up and cut the nest out. You could even drill into the trunk of the tree and inject bifenthrin by following the instructions in this section.
Just because you have mounds, it doesn’t mean the other, more significant non mound building termites are not also around. You should consider putting TermiteTrap monitors out to intercept them just in case they are.
The Giant Northern Termite Mastotermes darwiniensis destroys houses, trees, vehicle tyres (yes, rubber tyres!) and many other materials, faster than any other termite. They don’t cause the most dollars worth of damage in Australia; that title goes to the Coptos, simply because Coptos distribution covers all the mainland (including where Mastos thrive) and consequently they run up their dollars in the high population cities/suburbs.
Identification is pretty easy: Mastos are 13-15mm long (that’s more than half an inch). Most other termites are less than 10mm. They don’t build big mounds; those magnetic (north-south) mounds up your way are grass eaters.
Mastos are easy to entice into monitors. It is a good plan to use timber in the monitor as well as cardboard otherwise they may eat everything and have moved on within a month or less of finding it. Inspect monitors every week or two.
If you find live Mastos, the IGR (chloruazuron) baits are ineffective, you will need to call in a professional who will probably use a fipronil product. If you are apprehensive of chemicals, do not worry unduly. Fipronil is the chemical in Frontline which is put directly onto the skin of dogs to kill and prevent fleas, so the usual dilution of 3 ml/litre of fipronil is even less toxic.
Baiting is the most certain way to kill a colony. If you can get termites to take bait, they are definitely taking it back to their nest. It is slow-acting and multiple feeds are necessary, but if the feeding goes on for weeks then slows down and finally stops, it is because the colony has been killed. The only other reason is that the connecting tunnel back to the nest has been broken, so, no digging or gardening while baiting is in progress!
Termites will only take bait if they can get to it in safety from inside timber they are already eating.
Make a small hole (5mm) into the timber where it is hollowed out and feels thin and soft. Use a small-bladed screwdriver or a vegetable knife— NOT A DRILL AND BIT.
Wait a minute or so. If termites are inside, soldiers usually come to the opening to guard it until workers can repair it. If there is no life, leave it open and come back in an hour or next morning. If the hole is repaired, you know they are still active and ready for baiting.
Using a sheet of aluminium cooking foil and duct or gaffer tape, make a pouch or pocket big enough to hold the contents of a tub of the bait to place over the hole (re-open and enlarge it to 10mm just before you put the pouch in place).
The bait in the pouch is moist and easier for termites to harvest than hard timber so they begin taking it in preference. Check every 7-10 days and replenish as necessary.
Schedos require 3-4 times as much bait to kill the colony and they often replace the bait they take with masses of mud. It is a pain to keep feeding them sometimes for many months but baiting until they finally stop is the surest method. Dusts and foams used by some professionals may leave you with empty galleries within a week or two, but you can never be absolutely certain that the dusting or foaming did not make the gallery untenable for the shy and easily disturbed Schedos. Coptos on the other hand can adjust to some disturbance but baiting is usually completed within a month to six weeks depending on the season.
More detailed instructions in our free how to guide here.