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Subterranean termites are commonly known as white ants. They are however distinctly different from ants in their lifestyle and appearance as shown below.

Termites play an important role in nature by recycling rotting timber in the forest and returning nutrients to the soil. It is only when they enter our homes that they are declared pests because of the substantial damage they can cause.

Termites are social insects and have a caste structure which differentiates workers from soldiers and reproductives.

The reproductives when sexually mature are winged. In the warmer and more humid months, they swarm and can often be seen in the early evening flying out of bushland to colonise new areas, maybe your home.

The queen's role is to lays eggs, sometimes up to 2000 eggs per day in a large mature colony. These eggs then develop into workers, soldiers and reproductives.

The workers are responsible for all structural damage. They are wingless, blind and sterile. They forage for food, construct tunnels, build the nest and feed the other members of the colony. They feed on wood and cellulose materials, but have a preference for some timbers over others.

The soldiers are responsible for the protection of the nest and in some species have a pair of mandibles on their head to attack the enemy.

As they feed they may hollow out timbers and often move from one area to another by constructing small tunnels made from a mud-like combination of faeces and saliva over non susceptible materials. The tunnels shown here, offer protection from predators, heat, light and lack of humidity in the outside environment.

Termites can travel long distances to find food. The nest can often be 50 metres away from where workers are foraging. They can work their way into a house from under the floor, up the wall cavity, alongside plumbing or through construction joints in the concrete