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TermiCam Pty Ltd

Nautical Termites — termites in boats and ships

Regardless of whether it’s a speedboat, a fishing boat or a cruise ship –  if it has timber it can have termites.

In the past, boats and ships were inspected for termites by tapping on timber to listen for a hollow sound, or by close visual examination looking for termite damage. Sniffer dogs were also used but, unfortunately, they did a lot of damage by scratching polished surfaces, flooring and furniture.

That was then and this is now!

Termites are less than 3 mm long and they hide inside timber, so you need a high-end thermal imaging camera to accurately detect the thermal anomalies (or heat patterns) they create. TermiCam inspectors use non-destructive, state-of-the-art thermal imaging cameras to detect anomalies invisible to the naked eye. These anomalies indicate the presence — or  not ­— of termites on your vessel.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve conducted countless infrared imaging inspections across Australia and Asia looking for nautical termites, with technology that’s so sophisticated our people need a special camera licence just to use it!

As you can see in the images, the darker colour markings on timber can be mistaken for normal weathering, but the thermal images on the right picked up dots representing heat. These turned out to be well-fed termites.

Nautical termites 1  Nautical termites 2

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How do termites get on vessels?

The most common way is by working their sneaky way up the rope that’s holding the boat to the dock. Another, less common way, is by flying termites landing on board and beginning a colony. Cruise ships are especially vulnerable with their nicely polished timber furnishings and decks as food, glorious food, to these tiny timber-attacking insects.

A case study

TermiCam’s Singapore based thermographers Ramzan Yusoff and Roger Tan recently inspected a fibreglass boat for termites. Within minutes, their powerful thermal imaging camera picked up a small thermal anomaly, and a much larger shortly after. Because thermal anomalies often indicate the presence of termites, the findings immediately triggered a more intensive inspection to confirm the situation. Unfortunately for the owner there were termites on board — fortunately TermiCam had located them before they could do any more damage.

Nautical termites 5  Nautical termites 6

The image on the left is what our thermal imaging camera picked up — a very small, yellowy thermal pattern. On the right is part of what we found beneath the surface. Termite heaven!

Ramzan and Roger’s many years of pest inspection experience allowed them to provide authoritative, independent advice to the owner on the next best steps. In this case it was decided a baiting programme was the best strategy. Within a week the termites had been completely eliminated, allowing the owner to carry out vital repairs.