MDF manufactured from blends of cypress pine and radiata pine shows enhanced resistance to subterranean termite attack
P D Evans, S Dimitriades, C Donnelly, R B Cunningham
Medium density fibreboards consisting of blends of the naturally durable wood species white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla) and non-durable wood species were manufactured in a commercial plant and subjected to a bioassay using the subterranean termite species, Coptotermes lacteus. A board composed of 30% cypress pine, 30% slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and 40% of the naturally durable hardwood species spotted gum (Corymbia maculata) was also manufactured and bioassayed against C. lacteus. The aims were to determine (i) whether boards containing cypress pine possessed increased resistance to termite attack compared to a control manufactured entirely from non-durable wood species; (ii) the relationship between the cypress pine content of boards and their resistance (if any) to termite attack; (iii) whether the termite resistance of boards containing cypress pine could be further enhanced by the addition of spotted gum fibre. There was an inverse relationship between the cypress pine content of MDF specimens and mass losses of the specimens during the bioassay, the percentage mass losses of specimens containing 11.4, 16.2 and 34.2% cypress pine being 20.3, 13.4 and 8.8%, respectively, compared to 32.8% for the control, which consisted of non-durable slash pine (80%) and hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) (20%) fibre. There was strong evidence that the inverse relationship between the cypress pine content of boards and mass losses during the bioassay was linear, although a statistically significant quadratic (curvilinear) effect was also apparent. The addition of spotted gum fibre to boards did not increase their resistance to termite attack. Cypress pine heartwood contains a variety of extractives that are either toxic or repellent to termites, and the increased termite resistance of MDF containing cypress pine compared to the control is probably due to the insecticidal effect of such chemicals on C. lacteus. The incorporation of cypress pine fibre into MDF shows promise as an alternative to chemical biocides for increasing the resistance of MDF to termites. However, the response of termites to heartwood extractives varies between species, and therefore further experimentation is needed to test the resistance of MDF containing cypress pine fibre to attack by greater range of wood destroying termites under test conditions that more closely simulate field conditions.
Keywords: MEDIUM DENSITY FIBREBOARD; MDF; TERMITE; NATURAL DURABILITY; CYPRESS PINE; CALLITRIS GLAUCOPHYLLA; COPTOTERMES LACTEUS