Termites also known as ‘white ants’ are a social insect that help different ecosystems all over the world. However, here in Australia they have developed a bad reputation as timber destroyers and are an unwelcome visitor in Australian homes.
Although it is true that some termite species are a large threat to our homes and infrastructure, not all termites are bad. In fact, some termites can play a beneficial role in the environment.
The Damaging few: Termites that attack
There are around 360 different termite species that are found in Australia, however only a handful are considered a destructive major pest. These varieties include subterranean termites. These termites build underground nests and search for cellulose-rich materials such as paper, cardboard and timber. These termites are responsible for billions of dollars’ worth of damage to Australian homes and buildings every year.
Another type of termite that is a concern in Australia is the drywood termite. These termites infest dry timber structures such as roof timbers, wooden beams and furniture. Drywood termites can also cause extensive damage without any sign that they are there which makes them very difficult to detect and control.
How Termites help the Ecosystem
Even though termites have a destructive reputation, they still also play an important part in helping maintain the healthy ecosystem. Termites are the main decomposers in the ecosystem that break down dead plant matter and they help return the essential nutrients back into the soil. This process is very important for nutrient cycling and aids in the overall health of the grasslands and forests.
Termites can also play a role in helping soil aeration and structure improvement. Their tunnels can create channels that help water infiltration and drainage. This also helps promote healthier soil.
Termite mound nests have also seen to provide habitats for small animals and can help with the overall biodiversity in an ecosystem.
How to Manage Termite Infestations
Although termites can help the ecosystem its important to take the right precautions to protect your property against the more destructive species. Regular inspections carried out by a qualified pest control professional can identify any signs of infestation early which will allow for a prompt and effective treatment. However, as a home owner there are things you can do to help reduce the risk of termites attacking your home by maintaining a moisture-free environment. It is also important to remove potential food sources such as timber debris and keeping an eye out yourself of any signs of termite activity.
In conclusion although termites can pose a threat to buildings and homes not all termites are bad. Many to help maintain a healthy ecosystem and by understanding the different roles of termites and working with a local pest controller you can protect your home while still appreciating them in the ecosystem.
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