Coptotermes – we are surrounded

    

Nasute termites eating woodI am a lawyer, which by definition makes me:

– highly organised;

– prone to excessive amounts of research; and

– very annoying to live with.

And so I have been sizing up the enemy at the back of the garden. Apparently the Coptoterme is the most destructive timber pest in Australia. Like my family, they are attracted to Sydney’s lower north shore because of its ready supply of big gum trees and old houses. In our case it was also the abundance of good state schools.

A single termite colony may contain more than one million termites. One. Million. Termites. This knowledge of course had me scratching all night. Somewhere in that colony is a queen who will live for 25 years, a king, soldiers, workers and reproductives. These reproductives will mature and fly off, find a mate and start their own happy little colony, somewhere moist in my garden or worse – in my house.

The Coptoterme is described as covert and destructive – like some kind of insect terrorist cell in my backyard. Apparently they can build tunnels and attack buildings 60m away. Our house is barely 10m away from the retaining wall that contains One Million Termites.

They are unstoppable. No wonder they’re called the Super Termite. They are so strong they might as well be from Krypton.

My research has made me far more aware of the finer points of termite reproduction than I ever wanted to be. Did I mention that the queen termite can lay more than two thousand eggs a day? Two. Thousand. Eggs. A Day.

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