Responding to incursions of Australian subterranean termites in New Zealand
  Key Words  
  Coptotermes acinaciformis, alates, elimination, Sentricon® bait stations, Otorohanga
  M.G. Ross
  New Zealand has three species of native termites Kalotermes brouni, Stolotermes ruficeps and S. inopinus. In terms of destructive capability, these are of minor significance. Invasive Australian subterranean termites, specifically Coptotermes acinaciformis and C. frenchii hitchhiked into New Zealand unnoticed several decades ago, within utility poles, railway sleepers and wooden packaging. From 1940 to 1980, up to 50,000 properties in the North Island were inspected for invasive termites, with around 110 infested sites found and treated. One infested site located in the rural town of Otorohanga has persisted. C. acinaciformis was first reported from Otorohanga in 1990, with the termites entering the town during the 1950s via two imported utility poles. Initial response actions involved removal of the utility poles adjacent to infested properties and insecticide treatment. One nest was found within the poles, and this was destroyed. Further activity was detected between 1994 and 1998, despite treatment carried out after each incident. In 1999 options were explored to eliminate the increasing termite population, which had by now infested eight houses. A group of invited international and local experts met to overview the site and develop a strategy for elimination. As a result of the meeting a comprehensive response programme was implemented. This involved the placement of up to 300 Sentricon® bait stations and 200 wooden stakes at the site, inspection and removal of untreated hardwood utility poles in the area, placement of sticky traps up to 10 metres height on selected utility poles to monitor for alate flights, inspecting properties within the area for new activity, placing movement controls on termite host material, and liaising with the local community of 3000 to enable them to assist with identifying signs of termite activity. Bait stations were placed in November 1999 and active termites were found feeding within six bait stations one month after placement. By March 2000, three months after placement, termite activity had ceased. As of early 2005, regular monitoring and on-going inspection of bait stations have resulted in no further evidence of termite activity. Based on no C. acinaciformis being found, successful elimination at Otorohanga is scheduled to be announced in 2005.