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27 September 2011
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is taking action to destroy a small population of an unwanted termite from a Queens Road home in Waikanae.
The West Indian drywood termite is new to New Zealand and is considered one of the most damaging drywood termites internationally because it tunnels into and destroys dry timber.
If left unchecked, it has the potential to significantly damage timber framed homes and impact on the country’s sawn timber export industry.
MAF Biosecurity Response Manager Glen Neal says investigations indicate that the termites are unlikely to have moved beyond the home where they were first detected.
“These insects have limited ability to spread far independently without being transported inside wooden materials that are moved. All items from the affected house that contained termite colonies have been treated,” Mr Neal says.
However, due to the damage that the termite could cause to any timber-framed home, MAF will fumigate the entire house as a precautionary measure to ensure any possible remaining termites are destroyed.
Mr Neal says MAF is very confident the termites can be completely eradicated.
MAF has received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to import and use sulphuryl fluoride (SF) in the fumigation. This gas is used widely and routinely in Australia and the United States to treat this pest in homes.
“We have been in close discussion with the EPA, the Kapiti Coast District Council and the homeowner to ensure this activity can take place in a well-controlled and appropriate manner, with as little disruption to the community as possible.
“Tight control measures are in place to ensure the safety of the fumigators and the homeowners, and to minimise the impact on the community, neighbours and the environment while the eradication takes place.
“The home will be covered with tarpaulins to keep the gas contained inside it. Once the treatment is completed, the fumigators will monitor the atmosphere in the house until the fumigant present in the air is reduced to a minimal safe level before removing the tarpaulins.
“The homeowners will be relocated for the weekend and neighbours have been informed.”
Mr Neal says that due to the hidden nature of this termite, and the fact that it can damage wooden structures over long periods of time, MAF needs to ensure the insect population is fully removed.
For this reason, MAF will need to inspect neighbouring properties to be sure they are also clear, and will conduct a 10-year surveillance programme to check for any possible termite activity.
“MAF would like to thank the homeowners who have worked closely with us throughout this operation, and also thank the community for their patience during the process,” says Mr Neal.
For more information visit the MAF website: West Indian drywood termite or phone MAF on 0800 80 99 66
Lesley Patston, Senior Communications Adviser
Telephone: 04 894 0163 or 029 894 0163
MAF Media phone: 029 894 0328