An incursion of Australian subterranean termites has been declared eradicated from a site in Richmond, Nelson.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has now ended its surveillance of the site, five years after termites of the species [Note to Ed: Please italicise] Coptotermes acinaciformis were identified in the house and garden of a residential property in January 2006.
An investigation determined they most likely arrived with railway sleepers brought over from Australia in the mid 1990s, which were used for landscaping.
This particular species is an invasive wood pest, says George Gill of MAF's Plant Response Team. "It could cause significant harm to New Zealand's forests, trees and timber structures if it established here. Incursions by this termite species have occurred occasionally since the 1930s."
An Australian firm with experience and expertise in dealing with termite incursions was contracted to carry out the field work.
The response project included getting approval from the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA – now the Environmental Protection Authority) to bring in the insect growth regulator hexaflumuron for bait stations.
The live termites were eliminated by February 2007. The project then switched to a monitoring phase.
Mr Gill says the programme was fairly straightforward and went well. "MAF is grateful for the support of the property owners."
MAF is currently managing three other responses to Australian subterranean termites: two in the Auckland area and another in the Nelson area. "All three infestations are thought to be due to the same source – imported railway sleepers. Import requirements for Australian railway sleepers were amended in 2003 to require fumigation or heat treatment prior to receiving biosecurity clearance. But this is something gardeners should be aware of."