Termite control experts in Waikanae, New Zealand are buzzing—and they are not the only ones. Recently found in the area were the termites reputed for being the most destructive dry wood termites, the West Indian dry wood termite species. The insects were actually discovered in a single house near Wellington—where they apparently have been living for a decade.
The MAF, New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, was first notified of the termites only during January of this year. According to the response manager for the MAF’s biosecurity department, Glen Neal, the termites had been brought over from South America by the homeowners. The residents of the infested house had apparently gone on vacation in South America a full decade ago, and brought with them in their return some wooden souvenir items. While the wooden pieces had been fumigated by termite control experts at the time, the hardy insects had apparently managed to survive, and followed the fumigation by entering a form of hibernation where they went into stasis for the winter period.
The termites were discovered this January when the owners of the house noticed the insects flying around their home. They called experts in and the MAF was notified, after which plans were immediately put in motion after professionals determined the gravity of the threat. West Indian dry wood termites are not endemic to New Zealand, and are actually far more common in Australia, where they have had a terrible reputation for years now, having destroyed a staggering number of properties and caused significant damage to certain areas. Now, MAF officials are worried that this menace could do the same to Waikanae and other parts of New Zealand if it is not isolated and eradicated as soon as possible.
Fortunately, the experts claim that the termites have not been able to move to other houses in the vicinity just yet, and have apparently stayed only within that single house. That building is going to be fumigated by termite control specialists next month using the common dry wood termite fumigant, sulphuryl fluoride. Following the fumigation, the MAF has no plans of relaxing its constant monitoring of the house, in order to ensure that the pests do not get a chance of renewing themselves or making their way out of their “host home”. Other houses in the area are also going to be checked, and fumigated accordingly if any of the termites are found in them. It is clear that New Zealand authorities are taking this particular termite problem very seriously, which citizens are finding worthy of approbation. But then again, it may only be natural to take the threat seriously when it is coming from a species that others have already dubbed the most destructive termite in existence.