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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
If you don't fancy having your house eaten from the inside out, it's a good idea to ensure your home has a system in place to reduce the chance of termite infestation. Termites -- aka white ants -- will eat just about anything in your home, not just the framework. They will happily munch their way through any cellulose-based material: cabinetry, skirting boards and architraves, flooring, furniture and carpet underlay; even plastic and electrical wiring. And even if the framework of your home is made from a termite-resistant material, you will need another barrier -- physical or chemical - to achieve whole-of-house protection. There are more than 350 species of termites in Australia. Thirty of these present a real risk to homes throughout Australia, with the exception of Tasmania, where the risk is so low no mandatory protective measures have been put in place. In regions where termites are active -- and most species prefer the hot, tropical climates of the north -- the destruction they cause to homes can be severe. Protecting your home from termite attack can leave you with more holding up your roof than just a coat of paint. coming to dinner Story > Louise Tigchelaar pestprotection guess who's Termites cause around $910 million worth of damage each year in Australia, and affect around 650,000 homes. There are three types of termites -- dampwood, drywood and subterranean. Dampwood termites tend to establish small local colonies and tend to attack dying or dead trees and damp and decaying stumps. Drywood termites are mostly found in tropical, humid areas and are extremely destructive. If found in a home these usually need to be eradicated using specialist fumigation methods. Subterranean termites form tunnels underground and once in a building, cause major structural damage. The mastotermes darwiniensis (a subterranean termite) is our largest and most destructive termite and is found in northern Australia. expensive tastes 66 greensmart 2010 ABOVE: Some termite barriers such as HomeGuard are both physical and chemical Photo courtesy FMC The average cost of fixing this damage is around the $7000 mark, and some instances have seen the repair bill tip $50,000. An estimated one-in-five Australian homes will be affected during their lifetime and home insurance will not cover termite damage. However, termite management systems are becoming more effective and so serious termite attack is less common these days. As well, chemical systems are now less toxic to humans, pets and local wildlife. Termites can now be managed through the use of physical or chemical barriers or baiting systems, or a combination of all three. The aim of chemical barriers is to prevent the unnoticed entry by termites into the home by repelling or killing them. Physical barriers are designed to force them to leave a visual trail of their activity and also deter entry. However, if a barrier is breached, any susceptible materials in the home are fair game to these little critters. Spreading garden mulch up against external walls or leaving timber debris underneath a verandah is enough to foster the damp conditions termites love and create a breach. Physical barriers should be installed at the time of construction as they can be difficult to install afterwards, and include durable, termite-resistant materials such as galvanised iron, sheet copper, concrete slabs, crushed stones too heavy for termites to penetrate, sheet materials such as metal used in the subfloor, and stainless steel mesh -- used as either a continuous or isolated barrier. Treated materials such as timber can also be used where appropriate. One example of a good physical barrier is Termimesh -- a tightly woven stainless steel IN REGIONS WHERE TERMITES ARE ACTIVE THE DESTRUCTION THEY CAUSE TO HOMES CAN BE SEVERE