Honolulu church stained glass termite_450_388
Honolulu church has a stained glass termite

This is an introductory guide to termites which aims to

  • help people with pest termite problems,
  • introduce termites for students,
    and also to,
  • be a resource for the just plain curious (like me and possibly, you)

Please read this disclaimer. If you need expert or technical pest work done, check drdons.net/consult.

Things are (almost) all working OK but there are several hundred break in attempts each day (lots are nominally from the Pakistan & Russia lately), so please report any issues you encounter.

What’s here?

A jumble of information gleaned from answers to termite questions from people around the world. You can learn lots about termites, what they are and what they do, about avoiding termite problems, how to get rid of termites if you have them, and how not to get rid of termites.
Warning: some people may be overwhelmed by the amount of information.  Better to aim to be just ‘whelmed‘. Browsing is good, but the search box can help you to quickly find what you need and all mentions of what interests you.

The News clips are provided through a rather neat search of Google and are automatically updated daily. I’ve tried to filter out the silly stuff, but sometimes an off-target  story will get through and I can’t stop the odd business press release. There is no suggestion that I approve of any content displayed from Google News.

Now

In my part of Southern Australia (yes, I probably live on a different continent) it is a damp Summer.  Termites are busting out all over, with the extra moisture promoting explorations and making attacks on buildings easier for them. The skilled termite managers are very busy. It is always a good time to schedule to have your home professionally inspected and take any necessary remedial works. That works in both Northern and Southern hemispheres. In the North, it is good to act before cold weather limits their activity. If you are super-confident, infallible (& rich enough to bet-the-whole-house) then, by all means, do your own inspection, but it is way safer to employ a competent specialist.

Where’s Wally Don?

Wet mound sculptures CNS airport Copyright Don Ewart 2014
Amitermes mound sculptures Cairns Airport

There’s field biologist surveys, and Australian termite Standards need another round of updating, there’s some contract research proceeding more slowly than expected, some fun training and the usual consultancies and expert witness assessments.   Don’s teaching is again being revamped  with updated classes covering the revised Australian pest management competencies, Specialist short courses for people with the old licence who need updating to the competencies 5, 6 & 18 and 8 &10 are available through TIPRM working with the training organisation TME Trade.   Interstate and International students are most welcome as online options mean anyone can enrol and complete the courses.  2018 saw us teach the first student from Sri Lanka, and 2019 brought one from China, but sadly due to Covid, 2020 teaching with Melbourne Polytechnic was a bust and 2021 has been heavily disrupted. We are all set with very flexible offerings for 2022.

In late 2019 Don gave talks at trade shows for AgServ in Melbourne) and Adelaide  and at the Educon pest conference in Queensland, then a rather fun session on termites and moisture in buildings for the annual conference of the Institute of Building Consultants in Canberra, and gave a talk on managing the West Indian Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes brevis) for the forest group of DAF in Salisbury, Brisbane.
In 2021, Don gave an IPM talk for the PWAPM conference on the Gold Coast and the FAOPMA-Pest Summit 2021 Virtual Conference (organised by the Philippines). There’s a booking for the AEPMA conference in June 2022 with Don invited to give a talk on experience as an expert witness for termite claims. Also looking forward to the IRG-WP meeting, IRG54, from 28 May to 1 June 2023 in tropical Cairns.

Plastic collar badly placed and exposed at slab edge.
This plastic collar around a drain pipe should be embedded in the concrete and the concrete fully compacted around it.

Big project is assisting The Institute of Pest Risk Management to grow quickly. So, I see a lot of desk time. Look for details at TIPRM.com when the updates hit. Latest is a (pdf) TIPRM guide to timber pallet quality.

Testing things for people is ticking along slowly with lab test requests running roughly as expected but Covid making field work much harder to schedule.

Meanwhile, there’s the Fourth edition of the Code of Practice for Prior to Purchase Timber Pest Inspection (pdf file). Which has been released without publicity.

Mound with test units (wrapped)
An early Blockaid field trial, Townsville
T2 blue is not particularly repellent
This H2 ‘treated’ timber is not sufficiently repellent to stop termites building right on it.

Why Dr Don’s Termite Pages?

Working at CSIRO, 20+ years ago, I was spending far too much time answering telephone queries from the public (instead of getting my own work done). So when the web began to emerge, I created a simple page (At an experimental site generously provided by Baylor, a Christian University in Waco, TX) hoping to make my answers accessible.  When I started this site, Alta Vista (the original internet search tool) indexed only 35 pages (!) that contained the word “termite” in the whole of the web. Now Google reports almost 70 million pages that include “termite”. Unfortunately, lots of those termite pages don’t necessarily deliver anything helpful to you and an awful lot will lead you astray with potentially horrible consequences. Be very wary, particularly where people are trying to sell you magical termite stuff.

For the first few years after CSIRO these pages were hosted by Labyrinth and some very old links amazingly still point there. Please let me know if you find any of those old links. The move to drdons.net meant I have a lot more control but that move and this update has cost a lot on the Page ranking scale.

When this all began, back at CSIRO, each month only about a thousand people would drop by. Now the site averages many thousands of hits each day. I wish that 10 million people would also read my research papers! Please feel free to drop me a note.

What’s with the odd title photo?

In Far North Queensland, there is often a greater mass of termites than of grazing cattle. The scene shows the mounds exposed when a fire has removed all the grass. These grass-eating termites will survive because their mounds contain a store of food ready for the Wet Season which they eat when it becomes too damp too venture out. Some small and damaged mounds are lost to the heat.

Where are the old pages?

Most are still there, but in my latest software updates, a couple of the old fun-bit pages stopped loading. Sorry about that. A code fix is supposedly on the way, but it is harder than I thought to get the old stuff to run cleanly.