Honolulu church stained glass termite_450_388
Honolulu church stained glass termite

This is a rough 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 from Turkey & Russia lately), so please report any issues.

What’s here?

A jumble of information derived 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‘ using the search box to find what you need.

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.

Now

In my part of Southern Australia (yes, I probably live on a different continent) it is a Covid Spring.  Termites are doing just fine as the soils are nicely moist. Pest managers are still busy, even with the cold. That might be a function of more people spending time at home.  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. If you are super-confident, infallible (& rich enough to bet-the-whole-house) then, by all means, do your own inspection, but really it is better to employ a specialist.

Where’s Wally Don?

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

There’s field biologist surveys, another Standard needs updating, some contract research on hold, some fun training and the usual consultancies and expert witness assessments.   Don’s teaching is again being revamped at Melbourne Polytechnic 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 were being developed to begin running in right about now but are held up and being re-written to run online. Interstate and International students are most welcome  as online means anyone can enrol.  2018 saw the first student from Sri Lanka, 2019 brought one from China. 2020 is a bust. I look forward to the removal of travel bans, hopefully late in the year so that I can do some fun stuff in Malaysia but that is likely to be put off until well into 2021. Update training is critical for Australian technicians and inspectors working with the modern installed termite systems and the Melbourne Polytechnic Master Class update (with RPL) is an excellent way for skilled and experienced practitioners to be right on top of it all again. This is a particularly good option for experienced people who find that they are required to hold the new competencies. I’ll post an availability date as soon as we have one.

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.
2020 had four overseas sessions booked with conferences in Slovenia, Spain, the Philippines and Malaysia. Instead, it is webinars all the way. August had one on termtie baiting for Indonesia and early October has a similar one for the Philippines.

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.

Testing things for people is ticking along nicely with lab test requests running roughly as expected and several potential clients after quotations for field tests, which is very hard because I don’t know how soon I can travel.

Industry challenge at the moment is still the way the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB)  implemented the 2014 Standards from May 1 2017 and required existing products, systems and chemicals to have assessment to AS 3660.3-2014. There was barely been time to do the testing, and a lot of misinformation is still circulating. See the AEPMA Newsletter. A re-worked and fully updated AS 3660.2 for managing termites in existing building was published in 2017. The policy-forced transition from comfortable “Guidelines” to more rigid “mandatory provisions” the ‘should’ bits becoming ‘shall’ bits was always going to ruffle some feathers. The AS3660 series are about due to be updated, so that will be interesting.
Meanwhile, there’s helping update the Code of Practice for Prior to Purchase Timber Pest Inspection. Should be good by late September, but strange this are happening.

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, 25 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 well over 24 million pages that include  “termite”. Unfortunately, lots of those termite pages don’t necessarily deliver anything helpful to you and some of it is utter rubbish. Be very wary, particularly where people are trying to sell you magical stuff.

For the first few years after CSIRO these pages were at Labyrinth and some old links 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 5 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.