Recently we were asked to attend a property where termites were ingressing into a huge 1800’s Queensland homestead of historical value and causing extreme damage and the entry point was a bit of a mystery.
The activity seemed to extend in all directions throughout the home from the laundry area which sat directly above a unique, early 1900’s sealed subfloor concrete tank which held the homesteads drinking
water. The tank was some 12m long by 4m wide and around 1.7m deep, pitch black and full of freezing cold water, mosquito larvae, frogs, tadpoles and a layer of sludge on the bottom. The subfloor height was around 600mm and recent renovations had resulted in an extension and decks coming out from the wall where the side of the tank abutted.
Eventually the 450mm X 450mm manhole for the tank was found to be under the lino in the laundry and upon access, we could make out termite mudding up in the corner of the tank by hanging our heads down through the hole, (with half our head in the water!) and trying to shine the torch between the surface of the water and the ceiling of the tank – this wasn’t easy.
How do you control termites?
Step one was to have 1/3 of the water drained out so we at least had part of our chest and head above the water. Step two was to don the wetsuits and old boots and get through the manhole and with nothing to step onto, it required the help of three technicians to help with the lowering/insertion (and extraction) of the two that eventually went down into the tank.
Once in the tank with our floating toolbox arranged with a myriad of tools, torches, drills and so forth, we set about assessing what was going on. What we found was the termites were mudding all around the metal overflow outlet at the top of the brick work that was there for when the tank was at capacity. The overflow then ran outside down the dwarf wall and into a drain. In the tank, the termite mudding extended to the right where the wall met the ceiling (cold joint access) but was at it’s thickest along the left side and down the wall where the extension had been added on the other side.
How can you treat termites in difficult situations?
As it was drinking water, no products that contained anything detrimental to the water could be used and it was decided that a nontoxic bait inserted into aggregation boxes be fitted to the wall in the middle of the mudding. This had to be rebaited on a number of occasions over a period of weeks until the activity ceased. Problem solved? Maybe!? Further investigations over these weeks found that there seemed to be around a meter’s difference from where the tank wall finished and where the subfloor dwarf wall started for the extension. So, the builder was sought and after he jackhammered a hole in the vertical face of the subfloor wall, a one meter wide, sealed void was present that ran the 12m length of the tank and right against the wall where we had been in the tank some weeks earlier, was a termite ground mound/nest about the size of three footballs with mudding and shelter tubes running up the wall to the top.
Upon digging it out, there was a high degree of mortality BUT, in one ‘pocket’ of the nest were a small number of very healthy workers, soldiers and reproductives. No time was wasted in flooding the entire soil area with a non-repellent termiticide and it was determined that there was a very real chance that the colony would have started up again and continued to damage the home as they had the 3 main components needed to
survive being a perfect harbourage, plenty of moisture and all the pine they needed to live on. Some years on now, there has never been any reported termite activity in the property ever since the management plan
that was implemented so a good ending to the story.
If you’re concerned about termites, contact Amalgamated Pest Control Kingaroy.