Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
Question: I found termites in my yard, will they attack my house?
Answer: There are over 350 species of termite in Australia, of which only about 20 species cause problems for people. Termites feed on cellulose which can be found in wood, wood products, leaves, grass and bark. The diet can vary between the species, some species are known as dampwood termites in that they usually only feed on wood that is suffering from problems with damp. Some only feed on grass while some will feed on dry wood that is used in house construction.
While the vast majority of species are helping to break down wood and return nutrients to the system a small number of species can cause significant economic damage to built structures. The Museum offers a free identification service. In the event that a colony is located try and collect either specimens with wings or soldiers. The soldiers can be differentiated from the workers by sometimes being larger in size and usually having larger and darker heads, often with the presence of large jaws. The workers are all white, (hence the common name white ants). Please see here for identification procedures.