Concerning find behind wall of Aussie home highlights 'serious' problem

Termites can be harmful if inside the home and cause more than $1.5 billion in damage to homes every year.

A peculiar discovery seeping from the wall of a woman's home is a frightening reminder of a serious and costly issue facing millions of Aussies each year.

The Victorian homeowner noticed a small trail of mud trickling down her skirting board last week. Wondering what it could be, she took to Facebook and asked: "Does anyone have any idea what this is? Any help would be much appreciated".

The alarming find, believed to be in Essendon, Melbourne, was quickly identified as a termite lead and "it's a serious problem," Sydney pest control expert Christopher Moschella confirmed to Yahoo News Australia.

Termite lead on white skirting board inside Victorian home.
A termite lead (pictured) is a telltale sign there are active termites in a home. Source: Facebook

"Termites don't like daylight and that's how they move around behind the walls," Moschella said. "They create a little tunnel and move through them". It's ultimately a sign of an active and potentially costly termite infestation.

A termite lead is a "telltale sign" of termites being present inside a home, and it's what pest inspectors like Moschella would look for, he explained.

"It shows the house is being eaten. When it's at that point, showing in the skirting boards, they're exposing themselves and it's kind of a red flag. That's an emergency job," he said.

When a homeowner notices a termite lead it's likely damage has already been done. "If you see anything like that, straight away call your local pest controller and book in a termite inspection or timber and wood pest inspection," he warned.

Termites costing Aussies billions a year

Termites can be harmful if inside the home causing more than $1.5 billion in damage to homes every year, a study by the University of Technology Sydney previously showed. Alarmingly, an estimated one in three Aussie homes face this issue each year, according to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Left: Two termites eating tree. Right: Old house in Melbourne with BBQ outside.
Termites can cause significant damage to homes. Source: File Images/Getty

The mitigation of a termite infestation can cost homeowners anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 for treatment. But a visible termite lead could indicate a "real serious problem". "If a house gets eaten, you're looking at half a million to rebuild," Moschella said.

"The more time they have, the more damage they'll cause. Some species, it only takes them 12 months to eat a whole house," he explained. "The problem is most termites, except one species, are mostly subterranean. So they're not like ants, where you see them on the ground, walking around, everything they do is internal".

What if termites are found outside?

Previously, a Sydney resident raised concerns after noticing "thousands of insects" dead at his front door. Professor Ary Hoffmann from Melbourne University confirmed to Yahoo News Australia they're most likely winged termites — but in this case, they are harmless.

"If they are outside and there seems to be a lot of them, nests nearby is likely," he said. "You'd be concerned if they were inside, but if outside it probably indicates that you should have regular termite inspections done."

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