Cardboard Box Attacked by Termites
I had an interesting email from a couple in WA who had some questions about signs of termites in a coolroom. Here is the email exchange.
“Termites have attacked a cardboard box on top of a wardrobe in this building and have ventured out into mid air with their tunnels.
The building is constructed from cool room panel and I am worried that they may be into the foam styrene insulation that the panels are made of although there is no evidence of it.
They have given the wardrobe a good chew and have got into the toilet paper and other boxes around. The tenant has sprayed them with something and they are not active at the moment but will send a photo when they reappear.”
Does the web like tunnel help with ID or do all species do that?”Colin & Jo
Stalactite Tunnel by Heterotermes and the Microcerotermes
Hi Colin and Jo
No, not all termites make that type of stalactite tunnel — but a few do. A couple of these are the Heterotermes and the Microcerotermes which show up on my distribution references as being in your area. That could simply be that when most of the termite entomological effort was underway in the pre-1950s, they found and described a couple of species of these two genera around Derby. (Perhaps they set up a comfortable camp there).
Not ranking in the ‘serious’ category (unless they are eating your coolroom) I can’t find anything about the local species. If ever you do find a soldier, please take a photo and send it to me along with its size (which is probably around 5mm).
Feeding on the paper inside cartons including toilet rolls is pretty common to most termites if they can find such easy-to-harvest tucker. Termites will burrow through styrene foam quite easily and they may set up a sub-nest in it as a sort of re-hydration bivouac. After all, it provides good insulation from extremes of temperature.
Anyway, the nest is most probably outside the building and getting into it through the adjacent soil.
Professional Termite Treatment Tips
As you don’t have any live termites to feed with our bait, there’s no point buying in just in case. I have a couple of suggestions:
1. If you can find where they disappear into the wall containing the styrene you might get a syringe or a BBQ sauce bottle with a nozzle and squirt some Eucalyptus oil into the hole. 100-200ml would be enough. The liquid will turn into a toxic vapour that expands to wherever there are air spaces.
2. Check for any hollow trees nearby (up to 40-50 metres). Info on drilling and killing nests in trees is on our website.
3. Check any timber in contact with the soil nearby, there may be a nest under or in it.
4. If you can find a place where the termite tunnels have come up out of the soil to enter the building, this soil area could be soaked with say Bifenthrin following the directions on the concentrate available from most hardware stores. It keeps the soil toxic and impenetrable for 8-10 years.
I hope some of this info is helpful