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Termites, which are commonly known as white ants, occur throughout Australia in some several hundred species. The general, important purpose of termites is to forage on ground leaf and timber material returning nutrients to the soil.
A small number of species (approximately 10-20) however, are known to attack buildings, predominantly homes and cause significant damage. It is estimated termites cause greater financial damage than all natural disasters combined.
Termites are a communal insect and live in colonies situated generally in trees or below the ground and are divided into castles, all of which have a specific function.
One individual caste, the worker caste, can travel up to 80 meters from the nest where they will attack the timber in your home, partially digest that timber and return to the nest to feed the others.
Soldiers – The soldier caste has characteristics which help it perform its primary function, that of protecting the nest, mainly from ant attacks.
Soldiers have an outer ‘armour’ like body, enlarged jaws and the ability to exude noxious liquids as a defence mechanism.
The soldiers can be identified by their red/brown face and head.
Workers – The worker termite, as its name suggests, has many tasks within the colony. Workers are responsible for nest maintenance, some defence assistance and food foraging and storage.
Alates – Alates are a caste whose primary function is to create new colonies. Alates are winged and leave the nest en masse (in Victoria around October/November) on a still, warm night. Upon landing, alates ‘drop’ their wings, source an alternate sex mate and look for suitable new nesting sites.
Queens/Kings – A Queen is a female alate that has flown the nest, mated and is producing eggs. The male equivalent, if in close proximity to the Queen, is the King. Colonies are able to have more than one pair of Queens/Kings. Upon maturity, Queens are capable of laying up to 2000 eggs a day.