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Article posted on March 09, 2022

Termite Damage Statistics in Australia

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Each year, termites cause a huge amount of damage across Australia. That is why we take termite damage statistics very seriously at Pest-Ex. It is a warning that every home should be protected and seek out regular termite inspections.

Termites infest and damage approximately one out of every five houses in Australia, or anywhere between 130,000 and 180,00 Australian homes each year. Unfortunately, they can cause irreparable structural damage within 12 months of attacking a home, and regardless of the amount of damage, termite-associated costs aren’t covered by insurance companies in Australia. Read more about that here.

Termites cause a lot of significant damage that’s sometimes is irreparable. Unfortunately, with no central agency tracking termite activity and damage, all gathered damage data is averaged out across the number of affected homes. Let’s start from the beginning.

What Are Termites?


Termites are insects that are actually often mistaken for ants. However, studies have shown that termites have evolved from cockroaches, and are a sister group to wood-eating cockroaches and in no way related to ants.

What causes the most common misconception about termites is the fact that they divide into “workers” and “soldiers” that are usually sterile. They feed on dead plant matter and cellulose, generally wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung, which means that they’re helpful to the environment.

However, the fact that they consume wood makes them troublesome to man-made structures like houses, furniture, wooden boxes, and just about anything containing cellulose — including wallpaper, books, drywall, and carpet backing.

It’s worth keeping in mind that while termite nests usually start small (about a foot and a half deep underground tunnels), they grow as the colony grows. The nests are usually located up to 50 or 100 meters away from their foraging locations. The termites’ “range” increases with the size of their nest as well, so the longer the nest exists, the larger and more destructive it will become.

What Is the Largest Termite Population in Australia?

There are currently over 350 species of termites living in Australia, with approximately 40 of those species being invasive and destructive. Their exact numbers in Australia are difficult to estimate, but most estimates agree that they must number in trillions.

A single colony of these pests can have a population of over one million individual insects, with the queen living up to 15 years for most species, though in some species, the queen lives up to 50 years. Worker termites, who tend to the queen, usually live up to six years, while each year, approximately 60,000 alates (termites with wings) leave the parent colony to mate and start new colonies. A single colony can produce several other colonies each year.

Most Destructive Types of Termites

As previously mentioned, there are approximately 40 different species of termites (termite identification guide) that are both intrusive and destructive. These are divided into three categories, according to their natural nesting and feeding habits:

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites live in massive colonies that nest in or near the ground, as they need a source of moisture to survive. They also feed on wood and other products containing cellulose, such as stumps, dead branches, and fallen trees. During a home infestation, these pests infest timber structures, destroying entire foundations, support beams, and insulation. All three of the most destructive termite species are of the subterranean variety:

  • Coptotermes Acinaciformis — The most common species of termites in Australia, causing a damage bill larger than all natural disasters combined. They don’t require soil for moisture and can even chew through electrical wiring.
  • Subterranean Schedorhinotermes Intermedius — This species tends to make nests in tree stumps and living trees, though they’re no strangers to patios and fireplaces. A single colony usually contains several thousand termites, but the real problem is that they tend to cluster their colonies.
  • Subterranean Mastotermes Darwiniensis — Also known as the giant termite, this species is geographically limited to tropical climates. They’re the most destructive in terms of sheer damage and can eat through an entire home in a matter of months.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites usually live in small colonies and nest inside pieces of timber. Their diet consists of both hardwood and softwood, but they require high levels of moisture to survive.

What to look for

  • Infestations can be detected by:
  • discarded wings found near windows, in spiderwebs or a light source (like removable light fittings)
  • flying winged termites found within households
  • tapping affected timber, it may have a hollow sound
  • checking painted timber which can appear bubbled or cracked
  • the presence of dry, sand-like faecal pellets (frass) coming out of tunnel openings
  • finding frass in cone shaped piles or in circular patterns on the surface of infested wood.

Source: https://www.awe.gov.au/biosecurity-trade/pests-diseases-weeds/plant/exotic-drywood-termites

Dampwood Termites

This type is much larger than the subterranean and drywood type, but their colonies are significantly smaller. They live in wood with high moisture content, and when found in a home, they’re usually an indicator of a moisture problem.

Termite Damage Statistics in Australia

Termite Damage Statistics

Damaged area of eating termites.

In this video, what how termites eat through hardwood underneath this home that we recently inspected.


Why you should never leave pieces of wood up against your home?

If you suspect any termite activity in your home, don’t hesitate to contact us at Pest Ex to book an inspection.

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11 months ago
Just had my home barrier treatment for termites by Pest Ex. In every way a brilliant job and fantastic friendly service unlike...read more anything else I have struck on the Gold Coast. This is a very professional company and every person involved was excellent in every way. Strongly recommend them to all who read this review because you won't do better.
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