Termites and Tree Stumps
Habitats and Termites
Underground termite attack is mostly encouraged by us failing to give adequate
attention to the consequences of providing termites with the near perfect conditions for the establishment and
development of their colonies. When a pair of reproductives are looking for a site for establishing their colony,
they are exposed to the outside environment, full of hazards ,and unless their fundamental requirements for food,
shelter and moisture are met, they die pretty quickly. Many thousands of alates leave the parent colony in flight,
but few, and more often none, succeed in establishing a new colony. When attempting to reduce a termite hazard,
attention must be given to wood in the soil, moisture, and dead trees and tree stumps, which are significant
factors. Cut off pieces of wood left in the soil or used as fill under a verandah or extension during house
construction, provides decaying wood, essential for the establishment of a new termite colony, and creates an near
perfect environment for termites. The use of old railway sleepers in landscaping projects provides termites with
decaying wood in moist circumstances. Pressure treated timbers, mostly Radiata pine, are favoured for landscaping,
as they are chemically treated to protect the timber from decay and insect attack, and is not attacked by termites.
Dead trees and tree stumps provide a nesting area not only for subterranean termites but also for dampwood termite
species. Dead roots left in the soil may also be infested, and these sometimes provide termites with subterranean
access to buildings. Stumps and the root crown of felled trees can be removed with tree stump grinders, and the
area exposed chemically treated if necessary by a licensed pest control operator. Subterranean termites depend on
moisture for establishing and maintaining their colonies. Moisture is also required by the wood decay fungi from
which termites obtain their protein.
Termites and Feeding
Termites derive their nutrition from wood, wood products, leaves, bark and grass,
and other material containing cellulose. Paper, cotton, burlap and other plant products are often actively attacked
and consumed by termites. If these products are breaking down due to fungal activity or the activity of other
organisms, they seem to be more attractive to termites.
Termites depend on large numbers of one-celled animals (protists) living in their
hind gut to break down the cellulose to simple acetic acid, which termites can digest. Worker termites and older
nymphs consume wood and share their nourishment with the developing young, other workers, soldiers and
reproductives, which feed from their oral and anal areas.
Protein is required by termites as well as carbohydrate in their diet. This is
usually supplied by the same fungi that decay and rot wood and vegetation.
Making the environment less appealing to termites:
- Ventilation of the sub-floor area reduces the moisture content of the air and
prevents condensation of water on the wood.
- Leaking drainage and water pipes should be fixed to avoid providing the soil
moisture termites require.
- Natural seepage may be reduced by the installation of subterranean
- Removing old pieces of timber around the house and yard.
- Removing tree stumps to reduce food sources reduces pressure on your