Identifying Termite and Wasp mudding.

You're walking around your house and you see some new mud on the wall, how can you tell if this mud is from Termites or just some annoying wasps building their nursery on your wall?

How do you tell the difference between Termite mudding and a wasp nest?

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How to identify termite mudding.

We often get calls when people find some dust, debris or any fine material that appears out of places it probably shouldn't. Good news is, it's not always termites, but it's bad news when it is. How can you identify what it is?

Termites build mud shelter tubes to keep them nice and cozy and moist, they can't be exposed as they will dehydrate and die. So, keeping this in mind, you need to remember that you're looking for nice moist, tightly packed mud. If the termite activity isn't new, the mud may be quite dry and cracked, but it's normally quite dense and difficult to break off. Termites are great engineers, and they will build solid mud tubes that protect them from the outside world.

If you see any debris or something that isn't where it should be, give it a rub with your finger, if it's hard and doesn't break away easily then it could likely be termite mud!

Here are some pictorial examples of what to look for: 

The Termite mudding is clearly visible on this property on the Central Coast, that is, after you remove the paint!

The Termite mudding is clearly visible on this property on the Central Coast, that is, after you remove the paint!

Termite mud packed in between an engaged pier in a subfloor and a dwarf wall. The mud is packed in tightly and does not fall out easily!

Termite mud packed in between an engaged pier in a subfloor and a dwarf wall. The mud is packed in tightly and does not fall out easily!

This termite activity is quite obvious! However, subtle signs are also present. Notice the bubbling of the paint on the right hand side just below the mudding. This is a sign of significant activity jay below the surface, this is something we look for during inspections as well. This was on a property in Mangrove Mountain.

This termite activity is quite obvious! However, subtle signs are also present. Notice the bubbling of the paint on the right hand side just below the mudding. This is a sign of significant activity jay below the surface, this is something we look for during inspections as well. This was on a property in Mangrove Mountain.

Termite mud packed in behind this architrave is a dead giveaway. Although it may seem really obvious, sometimes the orientation of the door makes it hard to look at the doorway side on.

Termite mud packed in behind this architrave is a dead giveaway. Although it may seem really obvious, sometimes the orientation of the door makes it hard to look at the doorway side on.

Here is a deceptive example:

This appeared like evidence of termites at a distance initially, (it was  up on the top of a garage). Closer inspection revealed that it was just debris made up of dust, fluff and spiders webs. 

This appeared like evidence of termites at a distance initially, (it was  up on the top of a garage). Closer inspection revealed that it was just debris made up of dust, fluff and spiders webs. 

Arsenic Trioxide Dusting - A Dangerous way to kill termites!

This is some termite damaged timber that has been treated with Arsenic trioxide dust. You can see the remnants of the arsenic in the galleries in the timber, its bright red! Arsenic trioxide dust was introduced many years ago as a means of treating live termites in their workings in an attempt to eradicate the colony. Whilst it has been an effective means, arsenic trioxide is extremely toxic and there are much better methods nowadays that don't introduce toxic chemicals into your property. Termidor dust and baiting are just some methods that can be used. Unfortunately, arsenic trioxide is still readily available and still being used by pest controllers in Australia.

How ant capping keeps termites out of a building.

Ant Capping is designed to prevent undetected termite entry.

As with all termite management systems, they are primarily designed to force termites out in the open so they can be easily detected during an inspection, or to deter their entry. For these systems to work effectively, 2 conditions must be met:

  1. The physical barrier system needs to be complete, covering all entry points and forming a continuous barrier around the perimeter of the building.
  2. The property needs to be regularly inspected to ensure that the system is working correctly and there are no termites trying to infest the property.

Check the following photos that identify common problems with ant capping.

The termites have built a large mud shelter tube under this ant cap, but then you see them mysteriously appear in the timber above the ant cap! If this capping was a continuous barrier for the full width of the brick, they would have to build their mud shelter tube OVER the ant cap.

The termites have built a large mud shelter tube under this ant cap, but then you see them mysteriously appear in the timber above the ant cap! If this capping was a continuous barrier for the full width of the brick, they would have to build their mud shelter tube OVER the ant cap.

This explains why termites get in without being seen -  the ant capping does not cover the full width of the brick! This  does not  meet the Australian standard for termite protection.

This explains why termites get in without being seen -  the ant capping does not cover the full width of the brick! This does not meet the Australian standard for termite protection.

This ant capping was only partially existent, with an inspection edge that goes off into oblivion. It was not able to prevent the termites getting in a chewing out this frame.  

This ant capping was only partially existent, with an inspection edge that goes off into oblivion. It was not able to prevent the termites getting in a chewing out this frame.  

The ant cap on this wall ends up butting up to a timber frame, there's no inspection edge and no surprises the termites got in. 

The ant cap on this wall ends up butting up to a timber frame, there's no inspection edge and no surprises the termites got in. 

This is the most common failing of ant capping, failing to form a continuous barrier when there is a vertical transition, nothing is preventing the termites coming up between the two piers and into the lower bearer, and it would not be visible until it's too late.  

This is the most common failing of ant capping, failing to form a continuous barrier when there is a vertical transition, nothing is preventing the termites coming up between the two piers and into the lower bearer, and it would not be visible until it's too late.  

Formwork left in place - Discovered during a pre-purchase inspection.

A Pre Purchase inspection doesn't just tell you if there are termites or other timber pests in a house. It's important to discover and report on conducive conditions and other potential timber pest problems.

One common problem is that houses are left with timber formwork behind when concrete is poured and not removed once the concrete is set. Often this is because the remaning formwork is either inaccesible or difficult to remove.

This formwork creates not only a great food source for termites but also usually generates a great entry point for them to get into other parts of a building.