New Zealand ministry completes fumigation to eradicate newly-introduced West Indian termite, says colonies have potential to damage timber frame homes, can not yet give 'all clear' result

Lorena Madrigal

Lorena Madrigal

Oct 11, 2011 – Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , October 10, 2011 (press release) – The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has successfully carried out a full fumigation of a Kapiti Coast house to eradicate a small termite infestation of the introduced West Indian drywood termite.

Small colonies of the pest termite, which could potentially damage timber framed houses, were found earlier this year in wooden items belonging to a family that had returned from South America.

MAF Manager of Biosecurity Response, Glen Neal, says the fumigation, which involved covering the affected home with tarpaulins and pumping in a fumigant gas, went exactly as planned and the homeowners are able to return to their property today.

"The wooden items containing termites were removed from the house and fumigated some time ago. We are now confident, following the weekend's treatment, that any termites that could have remained in the house itself have now been destroyed," Mr Neal says.

Prior to the weekend fumigation, investigators for MAF checked nine closest neighbouring houses to the affected property and found no evidence of the West Indian drywood termite in any of them.

"The failure to find any evidence of the West Indian drywood termite so far does not yet mean an "all clear" result. It does, however, support MAF's expectation that the pest has not moved from the original affected home.

Coincidentally, during the inspection of the neighbouring properties, inspectors did find some native New Zealand termites, not in a house, but in a woodpile in a garden.

"Specimens were taken to our laboratories and identified as a New Zealand native species that is widespread throughout the country and not considered damaging to property," Mr Neal says.

"It is not unexpected to make a finding like this when searching areas that are habitat for this native species."

In order to confirm full eradication of the West Indian drywood termite MAF will now inspect all homes within a 100 metre radius of the initial property and conduct a 10-year surveillance programme in the area.

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