Termite colonies can vary greatly in size, containing anywhere from a few hundred thousands termites to several million.

Here in Australia we have round about 300 species of termite. Only 15 of these termite species are likely to cause damage to a homes structural timbers.

Most people believe termites are a sub species of ants but in fact the insect species they have the closest relationship to is the cockroach.

Termites can be divided into 3 main sub groups, these being dampwood, drywood and subterranean. The most likely type to damage your home are the subterranean.

Termites are happy to eat any type of timber although some wood species are more resistant to termites. These include Jarrah, River Red Gum, Spotted Gum and Red Mahogany to name a few. In practice, any structure that uses timber in its construction is potentially exposed to termite infestation.

Termites damage is not just isolated to timber, they can damage other building construction materials in their search for food.

Termite colonies are a closed system of tunnels and galleries. This closed system allows termites to forage for food without exposing them to the sun and possible predators. Also termites require moisture and this closed enviroment allows the colony to maintain the required levels of humidity. The gallery system of a termite colony may cover up to one hectare in area, allowing the termites access to food sources across the entire area.

There are 3 castes of termite. Workers, soldiers and alates. The alates are the breeding class of the colony and they can become queen termites. Alates unlike other termites have eyes. They have reproductive systems and also come equipped with wings, which allow them to fly out from the colony when it is time for the nest to expand further afield. Alates leave the colony in large swarms at various times throughout spring and summer. The trigger for these swarms is thought to be enviromental and can occur across thousands of colonies througout a wide area at virtually the same time.

For many homeowners swarming alates are the first sign that they may have a termite infestation. It is good practise to try and confirm where swarming alates are originating from, as they well lead you directly to a termite colony on your property.