The West Indian drywood termites are especially abundant in Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Townsville and Rockhampton where they are considered as serious pests. They are deemed as the world’s most destructive drywood termite.
Homeowners and construction companies are now being asked by Biosecurity Queensland for suggestions on how to manage the termite problem in the state. In fact, the State Government has paid for building treatments and any infestations found in timber products since the 1960s.
A treatment for an average 3-bedroom home costs about $42,000, and taxpayers pay about $750,000 a year for the annual program.
However, since the new Biosecurity Act 2014 was implemented in July, the Government has made a move to reassess how it manages the pests.
The following are the options that are being considered:
Government organises treatment, with a phase-in of property owner contributions.
Property owners organise and pay for treatments.
Government organises treatment, with owner co-contribution of set costs.
Government continues to organise and pay for all surveillance and treatment.
A consultation process is being undertaken around how to manage the pest under the new act. This is due to the core principle contained in the Biosecurity Act 2014 around shared responsibility for biosecurity.
The main purpose of the the act is to determine where to find the West Indian drywood termite infestations and identify who pays the cost of treatment.
Perhaps the primary reason why it’s very hard to identify the presence of drywood termites is because these creatures live out their entire lives inside the timber, unlike the common subterranean termites, which are found in structures. By the time that they are detected, they have already made a significant amount of damage.
It is imperative that the government does some surveillance activities as it cannot be done by just private individuals. There should be a right balance between the resources used for the treatment and the resources used for the surveillance.
The surveillance and treatment has so far controlled the pest down to a much lesser number of sites in Queensland. However, these pests could still cause damage depending on when and where they were found.