A termite infestation can be devastating to not only your home or property, they can also be hazardous to your families health. With termites comes termite droppings, which cause skin related reactions, and mold which causes much more long-term health problems.
In Australia, termites will build enormous mounds that last longer than the colony can survive. There are a multitude of methods to discourage termites from feasting on a person’s home, unfortunately however, many species manage to find ways around them. Once a colony has moved in, it can be difficult to exterminate them. It’s best to book an prevention inspection yearly, especially if you’re located on the Gold Coast.
What do termites do?
Termites are social insects that live in colonies located in the ground or in wood. They feed on the cellulose in wood and wood-by product, such as paper. They cause approximately $5 billion in property damage yearly. Even worse, the damage is typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance and – because they have a knack for staying out of site, their damage can go unnoticed for many years until serious issues arise.
Most termite species cannot crawl on the open ground like ants. Instead, they build mud tubes to travel between their colony and food source. These mud tubes are a major indicator to pest control experts, that you have a termite infestation.
Are termites bad for your health?
On their own, termites are not dangerous to humans or pets, as their goal is to find food and water sources in order to maintain their colony. Termites rarely sting humans but when stung, they cause extreme pain, relentless itching, and swelling of the tissues. Due to this, termites can cause allergies and asthma attacks. Those that are predisposed to various kinds of allergies, can receive a moderately severe allergy. In fact, pest control experts advise those that are stung by a termite to visit a doctor.
Health concerns related to termites
There are severe cases of termites’ infestation where termites caused myiasis. Myiasis is an infestation of tissue by the larvae of houseflies. The larvae feed on the host’s living or dead tissue. Common infestations occur in open wounds however they have also occurred in cavities such as ears, nose, and oral cavity. Oral myiasis is commonly seen in adults and elders, however intestinal lesions have been reported in an 8-year-old girl.
Termite pellets are harmful to humans. These pellets, also known as frass or poop are wooden coloured and when in contact with the skin can cause contact dermatitis, as well as allergic reactions. Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction resulting from exposure to allergens or irritants. This rash is limited to certain areas of the skin and contains clearly defined borders. In the case of allergic reaction, the first exposure to the allergen may not cause inflammation, however subsequent exposure causes itching, which leads to the development of dermatitis.
Asthma is another occurrence thanks to a termite infestation. As termite decompose wooden structures, this can cause the appearance of mold. If this fungus appears inside your house, the constant contact can cause severe health problems. Mold produces spores which are distributed in the air and settle on human skin or enter our body when we breathe. Inhaling mold spores causes migraine attacks, runny nose, coughing, conjunctivitis, and chronic asthma. Mold is especially dangerous to children, specifically those with depressed immunity, as their immature organisms are most exposed to the impact of mold and spores. If a child is in constant contact with mold, he or she may be ill for an entire lifetime.
Immune-compromised people or people with chronic lung illnesses, such as lung disease, can get a serious infection in their lungs when exposed to mold. These people should steer clear of mold, especially when caused by termites. According to the Institute of Medicine, sufficient evidence suggests that indoor exposure to mold caused upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing in healthy people. The same study also provided evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in healthy children.
It doesn’t end there unfortunately, termites can also cause damage to your electrical wiring! Some types of termites, specifically the damp-wood ones have strong jaws. They use their powerful jaws to bite through and chew electrical wiring or cables they can find, in search of more digestible cellulose, which can cause short-circuiting in your home. One case of this is in relation to a colony of termites nesting around an electrical supply cable of a hot water system. The termites had badly damaged the insulation around the cable that they caused a dangerous and life endangering fault. This could have lead to electrocution, putting the homeowners family at risk.
The Gold Coast’s top 10 worst suburbs for termites
Termites in Elenora
Elenora is the perfect breeding group for termites, due to older homes that have been built with no under slab termite treatments, sandy soil around canals, and pole homes built upon hillier areas. Majority of the homes located around the canal were built during the 80s and 90s when termite treatments wasn’t standard practice.
Termites in Mermaid Waters
The belief that termites don’t live around canals scattered throughout the Gold Coast is a myth. Areas such as Mermaid Waters are actually teeming with termites due to rich, loamy soil. The sandiness of the soil actually helps termites travel faster into garden beds and homes.
Termites in Robina
Robina may be a newer area with townhouses and unit blocks, however due to rapid expansion, the pace of development meant removal of bushlands, which was later built on. This means that any existing termites will continue to live and breed until they reappear to wreak havoc on these newly constructed homes.
Termites in Pacific Pines
Pacific Pines has undergone rapid residential development over the page 10 years, with a mixture of older homes on larger blocks of land. Much of this area consists of hills, meaning split level houses that have a tendency to shift, settle, and moreover the first 10 to 20 years of their life. This causes hairlines cracks to appear in their slabs which termites can easily crawl through to get into the home.
Termites in Currumbin Waters
Currumbin Waters, much like Pacific Pines is built on sandy soil near the canals, and the clay soil of the hillier areas. This creates two different environments for termites, and unfortunately, they thrive in both. The hillier regions of Currumbin Waters are made up of split-level houses with timber pole construction. Whilst these poles are termite treated, after a few years they start to crack – allowing termites to bypass the treatment surface altogether.
Termites in Helensvale
Helensvale is situated on slightly drier, clay like soil, on hillier areas near bushland, which makes it an ideal breeding ground for termites.
Termites in Broadbeach Waters
Broadbeach Waters is situated on mostly rich, loamy soil, which termites love, and in fact many of the houses and gardens there are already infested.
Termites in Upper Coomera
Upper Coomera consists of large residential and commercial developments, with buildings generally 10 years old or less. The issues associated with these newer, fast growing suburbs is the tendency to bulldoze the land, and bury any foliage or other material, to which they build on top of. Termites will often be found in these areas, and as such will be buried until construction has finished.
Termites in Worongary
Worongary is a suburb located away from the more glamorous suburbs of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach Waters. The homes are large with large acre blocks, whilst the soil consists of dry clay, making it an ideal environment for a number of different termite species.
Termites in Tallai
Tallai is a small outer suburb in South East Queensland located in the Hinterland of the Gold Coast. Known for its beautiful scenery, large blocks of land, and large homes. It is however home to what’s known as the ‘giant’ termite.
Do you have termites?
There are 5 major signs of a termite infestation. Here’s how to spot them:
- Termite droppings
The first thing a termite pest control professional will notice are termite droppings. If you search for black marks around the area where they are feeding, you can determine whether you have termites.
- Wood tunnels
Wood tunnels are hard to see from the outside, however if you spot a piece of broken wood, you may notice tunnels inside it. If you see a piece of rotten wood that you suspect is filled with termites, do not touch or break it off, instead contact a termite control specialist immediately.
- It’s hard to open your windows or doors
Whilst sometimes a change in weather can make it harder to open windows or doors, it can also be a sign that you may need to call a termite pest control professional. Majority of the time, termites create tunnels through your doors and windows due to the softer timber.
- You notice ‘white ants’ around your home
Whilst ‘white ants’ are actually neither ant nor termite, the term is used interchangeably when referring to termites. Termites have a creamy white colour, wide waist, and straight antennae. Ants are similar in size but have a smaller waist and elbowed antennae. Unsure about whether you have ants or termites? Contact a pest control expert
- Timber within/near your home sounds hollow
This usually means that termites have already eaten away at the timber, and the piece of wood is unstable. From the outside, the timber might seem perfectly normal but that’s simply because termites eat from the inside-out.