Nasutitermes Walkeri Termites – Are They a Risk to Your Home?
We recently visited a client in one of the leafy suburbs of Sydney Australia to have a look for an arboreal termite nest. The type of arboreal termite we were looking for was the nasutitermes walkeri and finding exactly where the queen was located. These termites are known as ‘tree termites’ because they build their nests high up in trees. We found the nest, but we certainly got more than we bargained for!
Read on to learn about these interesting creatures, the risk they pose to your home and property and how to safely eradicate them.
A Brief Look at Arboreal Termites and Their Nests – What are We Looking For?
Geographic Location: Arboreal termites are located in eastern New South Wales and south-east Queensland(*1).
Nest Locations: One couple (a queen and a king) start the colony. They build nests in trees and lowland bush. As the colony grows, the nest is moved higher up the tree, and this is when the arboreal nests are built. Nests built up off the ground discourage other termites from moving in while encouraging flying termites of the same species to join the colony. As new members arrive, more kings and queens are established, and breeding is diversified to make a large and strong colony(*1).
Mud Tubes: Mud tubes will be constructed along branches and the trunk of the tree(*1,2).
Mud tubes provide the termites with a sheltered passageway to travel back and forth to the nest. Some of their tunnels even underground(*3).
Habitat Requirements: Termites require access to water and food sources. Arboreal termites prefer decaying hardwood over other types of timbers(*1). It is the cellulose in the wood that they eat. Cellulose is found in many types of products other than wood. These include paper, fabric, and carpets(*4). Many native tree species are classed as hardwoods, most notably, Eucalyptus trees(*5).
What do Arboreal Termites Look Like?
Arboreal termites have a creamy/amber coloured body and are between 5mm and 7mm long(*6). The soldier termite is particularly interesting because it has a pointed mandible. If the nest or tunnels are disturbed or broken, the soldier termites will come out ready to defend the colony(*1). Within the colony, there will also be flying termites, workers, nymphs (baby termites), a queen, and a king. Each member of the colony has slightly different characteristics(*1).
An Interesting Discovery – An Intruder in the Arboreal Nest
From time to time during our termite inspections, we come across intruders in termite nests. These are usually very clever insects who use the colony for protection and survival. On the day, we were observing the nasutitermes walkeri and looking for their queen, we found a caterpillar inside the colony’s nest! This resourceful caterpillar had succeeded in passing off as a termite queen(*1).
Are Arboreal Termites a Risk to Your Home or Property?
Although arboreal termites are an essential part of the environment and our ecosystem, they can pose a risk to homes(*7). Nasutitermes walkeri most often attack fence posts, pools, and timbered areas. They usually get discovered quickly because they build their tunnels on the outside of the timber(*1).
Do not Disturb the Termites Because They Will be Harder to Eliminate!
The most important thing to remember is not to disturb the termites in any way. When the nest or tunnels are disturbed, the termites will go into overdrive to:
1 > Repair the structural damage.
2 > Relocate the tunnels or nest.
If the termites relocate, it will be much harder to find them and the queen – and they may still pose a risk to your home and property. To fully eliminate a termite colony, the queen must be killed. If the queen is not killed, they will simply re-group.
If you find evidence of termites, contact Home Termite Control. We will identify exactly what type of termite you have, tell you if that species is a risk to your home and we can eliminate the colony safely and completely.
References *1. Home Termite Control. In Search of Nasutitermes Walkeri Termite Queen. YouTube video. 2018. *2. Australia’s Wildlife. Arboreal Termite. Nd. *3. Naturally Trees. Arboreal Termites. 2013. *4. Home Termite Control. Termites LOVE Eating! Do Termites Chew Live Trees and Roots? Yes! 2021. *5. Timber NSW. Our Industry. Nd. *6. Atlas of Living Australia. Nasutitermes Walkeri (Hill, 1942). nd. *7. Home Termite Control. Non-Toxic, Natural Termite Prevention, Treatment and Control. Finally! 2021.