Management of invasive West Indian drywood termite in Queensland: Transition from mandatory to voluntary treatment

IRG/WP 23-11002

C Fitzgerald, B Hassan

Cryptotermes brevis, the West Indian drywood termite (WIDT) is the most destructive drywood termite globally. It is capable of infesting both softwoods and hardwoods in timber structures. In Australia C. brevis was first discovered in 1940s and later an established infestation was discovered in Maryborough, Queensland in 1966 and then in Brisbane and Bundaberg in 1975. In 1977 the Queensland Government enacted the WIDT Prevention and Control Program to inspect, survey, and control the termite. The prime drivers of the program were mandatory fumigation of C. brevis infested properties at no cost to the property owner coupled with de-limiting surveys to capture any additional infestations near to the original infestation. Complete eradication of C. brevis was the original intention, but it soon became a suppression and containment exercise when it was obvious eradication was not possible due to the length of time the termite had remained undiscovered in Queensland. The program continued until the 15th of January 2021 when the Queensland Government divested from the program shifting the cost of treatment and repair to the property owner with treatment options available in addition to fumigation. This paper discusses the history of C. brevis in Queensland and its treatment and some of the alternative treatments now available or potentially available to consumers in Queensland to treat C. brevis on a voluntary basis. This forms part of a Queensland Government two-year transition strategy to provide the community, industry, and local government with the tools to manage C. brevis into the future and hopefully contain the spread of this pest.

Keywords: Cryptotermes brevis, Queensland, history, fumigation, treatment, transition

Conference: 23-05-28/06-01 Cairns, Australia

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