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Making sense of termites.  What to do if your neighbour has termites and won’t eradicate them.

by / Monday, 28 October 2013 / Published in Pest Talk

Wow! It’s hard to believe that we are into the fifth year of the greenpest newsletter.  So much has changed in five years, yet some things remain constant.

Termites still attack homes the same way they always have… sneakily and persistently.  Fortunately, termite control measures are continually improving.

We all know the phrase, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’  Would it surprise you to know that this common idiom is heard almost daily at our offices at Green Termite Bait Systems?  There are so many simple little things that you can do for FREE to reduce the risk of termites getting into your home.  They just require a little time and action.  But who has time nowadays?  “I’ll clear up that pile of wood next week-end,” or “I’ll mend that dripping tap in the garden soon,” we think to ourselves.

We’ve said it before and it is worth repeating; termites depend on our apathy and procrastination.  Wise home owners don’t sit and worry about termites.  Instead, they take action and do it now.  ‘Do what?’ you may ask.  They follow the sensible advice given to them by termite professionals.  Many of the things that professionals advise require nothing more than a little time and effort.  What sort of things?  You’ll find some basic tips here.

Every day across the country, pest controllers are invited out to customer’s homes and asked to prepare quotes for termite control.  They analyse each home on its merits and design a quote.  Very often they also advise about other things that need to be done; simple things that the home owner can do for themselves over a week-end.

In many cases, nothing’s done and everything is put on hold.  Six months, a year or two later the pest controller is back to the same home and what was only a potential problem when first they were called, is now a full blown termite problem with associated damage and repair costs that could have all been avoided IF ONLY they had listened and taken action!  You can lead a horse…

Our sister company Green Pest Control offers free ½ hour termite risk assessments for its customers in the SE Qld region.  Their technicians will call out and advise whether your home has potentially high or low risk of termite attack and they will prepare quotes for the professional side of the termite management as well as advise you on any other simple things you should do to reduce the overall termite risk yourself.  Even if you don’t accept the quote, it pays to follow any other sound advice that is offered.  Most quality pest control companies in Australia still do free quotes for termite management, so pick up the phone and make sure your home is properly protected.

We have also published a book that teaches you how to check your home for termites yourself, in-between professional inspections.  It’s free to download the ebook version and you can access the first two chapters for no cost.  It contains loads of additional tips and hints that are bound to help you if you take action.

In fact, you can buy the complete eBook for $38.50, examine it, read it from cover to cover, use it to check your home for termites for a full 7 days and if you don’t think it’s worth keeping we’ll refund you the full amount – no questions asked!

Simply visit this page to download it.

You now have everything you need to know readily available.  What’s left?  Ah yes… you’ll need to provide a little time and effort – after all, it is your home.

Is it against the law to have termites?

If you live in the Logan Shire (Brisbane) maybe it is.

Here is a direct quote from their web site:

Under Logan City Council’s Local Law 10 (Public Health) Part 2 – Nuisances, a person must not have a termite nest on their property, which has caused or could in the authorised person’s opinion cause personal injury or property damage.

There was also talk that the Gold Coast City Council planned to enact a law that would allow them to force home owners who had a termite problem to do something about it.  If they didn’t, the council was planning to do the treatment at their property whether they agreed or not, then present them with a bill.  If they didn’t pay, then the council was going to put a caveat on the home and recoup the cost from the sale price of the home when it eventually sold.

Needless to say, this didn’t make it into the local laws for the Gold Coast City Council.  Whether that is good or bad depends on your point of view.  If you are living next door to an inconsiderate neighbour whose property plainly harbours large termite colonies, then you might reckon it’s a pretty darn good idea.

Ten years ago we had a customer (Mr A) who owned a luxury home (now sold) in a prestigious area, but the neighbouring house was rented, riddled with termites, and had a foreign landlord (Mr B) who lived overseas and simply refused point blank to do anything about it!

At the time, we installed a full perimeter treatment as well as a Green Termite Bait System around Mr A’s home.  A full inspection revealed that Mr A already had some termite damage in his roof, but the afore mentioned treatments successfully solved this problem.  Annual inspections over the following years revealed no further termite activity in Mr A’s home.

The Green Termite Baits that were located between the two homes did come under attack on a few occasions over the next couple of years before the activity finally ceased.  It was apparent that the termites had been destroyed.  In other words, the baits in Mr A’s property had (evidently) killed the termites coming from Mr B’s property without anyone stepping foot into Mr B’s yard. Remember, Mr B refused to do any treatment whatsoever.

A few years later, Mr B sold his property (at a heavy loss) and the new owners set about repairing it.  Mr A said that the new (and friendly) owners disclosed the costs of repairs to be in excess of $80,000.

There are some lessons to be learnt here and you don’t need us to point them out, but we will mention one that you may have missed.  Very often long established home owners know a lot about the termite history of their neighbouring properties, so if you are planning to purchase a property, go say “Hi” to your future neighbours before you sign the contract.

Returning to the opening theme, does the Gold Coast City Council have a similar local law to the Logan City Council?  Your answer is here and we quote “In Queensland, there is no law governing the control of termites, therefore should you encounter termite attack on the Gold Coast, the responsibility for control rests with the property owner.  Termite control on private property is a civil matter between neighbouring property owners.”

Customer Question of the Month.

Question:

Hi Jerry,
I have been checking out termites on the internet and found your site to be very informative and helpful.  I have found a mound in my back yard that is full of termites.  If I buy a pack of baits from you and put them all around this mound will it kill them?

Jason R. Parramatta NSW

Answer:

Hi Jason,
We are asked this question at least 3 times every week and if you don’t mind, I’d like to have a little fun with the answer.

Have you ever watched a Kung Fu movie where the rival gangs have an all-in fight to the death using martial arts, knives and swords?  They go hard at it until just one side is left standing.  The notion occurs to most of us that if just one person on one side had the forethought to bring along a sub-machine gun, they could’ve saved a lot of trouble and won the fight a lot quicker!

Similarly, when you already know where a termite nest is, you can opt for a quick or slow way to eradicate it.  A termite nest can be treated quickly and directly by a number of methods with a range of products.  Direct treatment usually costs under $200 and when it’s done, it’s done.  You have eliminated one nest of termites without too much trouble in under an hour.  The same applies if you have a large amount of termites feeding in a certain area.  If a direct treatment can be applied without too much termite disturbance then the ‘get them now, while you can’ approach is the preferred way to go.

On the other hand, if you only have a small amount of termite activity, any attempt to treat them directly would most likely end in failure.  That’s when gathering numbers into a termite bait and using the termite bait system to eliminate the nest is the best way to go.

It’s important to remember that the main purpose of a termite baiting system is to reveal any termite activity that may be approaching your home that you can’t see.  The Green Termite Baiting System is designed for prevention, early detection and treatment of termites that are concealed from normal observation.  They can destroy a termite nest as far away as 50 metres including termites in neighbouring properties.  High risk termite species often conceal their nest underground, in the base or hollow of a tree – completely out of sight.

One final thing to keep in mind; just because you eliminate a known termite nest, doesn’t mean your home is safe.  It’s a common and costly mistake to think this way.

The following statement is based on twenty years of field experience, observation and a shared knowledge with other professionals within the termite management industry.

We estimate that there are at least three termite nests within striking distance of the majority of homes within Australia.

It’s a bold statement and we have no hard scientific evidence to back it up, but next month in our newsletter we will try to justify it with some practical evidence.  In the meantime, let’s assume it’s correct.

If you directly treat a known (obvious) nest in and around your property and think you’re safe, you’d be mistaken.  Your home is safer, but not safe.  What you have done is reduce the amount of risk to your home, for the time being.  There is still risk from other termite colonies (both present and future) that are not so obvious.

That is why we encourage everyone to install a termite baiting system.  Early detection and prevention is better than cure.

A quick example is needed here.  We installed a bait system around the perimeter of a home in Southport QLD because the owner had seen lots of evidence of termites in his back yard whenever he was gardening.  We even made bets as to which bait would be the first to ‘go off’.

Everyone was surprised when the first bait to become active was in his front yard!  There was simply nothing in his front yard to indicate the presence of a termite nest.  The following month, two baits in his back yard became active.

So here’s the summarised answer to your question; treat known activity directly if possible and practical, but don’t stop there.  Ensure you monitor for other termite activity using a quality termite baiting system around the entire perimeter of your home.

Cheers,
Jerry

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