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Nasty surprise – termite mound under kitchen benchtop

It’s that time of year when things warm up in Australia and in 2016 we have seen some of the wettest springtime months on record. As we near Christmas and another New Year, termites have sprung in to action in response to some of the most ideal breeding conditions in recent years.

In this story we take a look at a job recently completed in early December of 2016 at a newly constructed 3 level home just outside of Sydney. The property was heavily treed and indeed a natural haven for subterranean termites and upon arrival it was apparent that we could well be faced with something significant.

Unwanted discoveries for holiday season

Our client was completely unaware of any problem until the upcoming holiday season festivities prompted some preparation in the bar room kitchen. Along with the lights initially tripping the circuit breaker in the electrical switchboard, when she went to open the top kitchen draw it was jammed and could not be budged with a hard pull. Upon investigation and to her surprise a mud mound was found between the bench top and the top of the kitchen drawers, in essence gluing the 2 surfaces together. The termite colony had built their mud tunnels in order to access the damp timbers around the kitchen.

For this unfortunate customer things only got worse. After discovering the relatively small mud mound in her kitchen, our client promptly addressed the situation with a call to Assassin Pest Control- but when she turned around to exit the kitchen, to her horror a 2nd much larger mud mound was found above one of the window sills!

It gets worse – another mud pile above 3rd level window sill!

How could these mounds be allowed to grow to such a size, you ask? This particluar area of the home is only used around Christmas time, so the colony was left unchecked. Even so, it does not take up to a year for termites to inflict this much damage on a home- infestations of this significance can quickly develop over a period of just 4 weeks. Termites are relentless and are particularly prevalent in homes built in heavily treed areas.

What about that circuit breaker?

That’s right- an electrical fault reared it’s head about the same time as the termite infestation. Coincidence? No. Termites caused the electrical fault too. They’ve caused it by building their mud tunnels at the back of the switchboard. Upon initial contact by a termite, it is essentially fried and causes an earth leakage in the circuit, tripping the breaker. Once the power goes off and things moisten up again, the termites continue building their tunnels without any problem.

The reason this type of problem sometimes continues is that when people go to their switchboards and turn the tripped breaker back on, they literally fry any of the termites that are in contact with the electrical wires behind the switchboard. The sudden burst of heat also dries out the mud tunnels which sets the colony back for a while. However, once again the area will eventually attract moisture and the pests will recommence their destructive ways!

Treating Severe Termite Infestations

At Assassin Pest Control we’ve unfortunately seen this type of scenario plenty of times before. Infestations of a sever nature cannot always be controlled with a single application of chemical, and so 2 simultaneous treatments are required.

  1. Chemical Treatment for soil. In this case we use our preferred Termidor Termite Treatment after we excavated a small portion of the soils around the perimiter of all buildings on the property.
  2. Baiting System. This is critical for us to establish a better understanding of the behavior of the colonies at the property and to monitor their activity. First we determined the best spot for the base station and it was decided that underneath a concrete footpath adjacent one of the largest trees on the property would be ideal. We returned to the property and discovered another colony had reached the bait station in just under 4 weeks. A secondary chemical treatment was then applied to exterminate them.
Termite bait station used to control the colony
Close up of termite baiting station

As you can see with severe infestations, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that can be applied within a few hours. Termite problems of this degree require a high level of experience from pest controllers together with ongoing inspections of bait stations, and further pest eradication as needed.