Problems with termite poisons

Date: 27 May 2012


Termite poisons are called termiticides. The banning of organochlorines in 1995 led to the introduction of other groups of chemicals known as organophosphates and synthetic pyrethroids, which are now the only termiticides able to be used in South Australia. However, compared to the “old” poisons, these have a relatively short life in contact with the soil. There are also other non-chemical alternatives.

The pyrethroids appear to have some repellent characteristics, but they are not as powerful as the banned organochlorines which have exceptional repellence.

If your house was built after 1995, it is of critical importance that you have a perimeter termite barrier around the outside, and that it is not disturbed. There have been many termite infestations in recently built houses, and the incidence appears to be increasing. Most attacks involve entry points around the outside of the building, where the termites have simply come up the concrete footing and gone in under the damp proof course. Situations where the paving is installed too high and where there is a source of moisture are targeted as entry points by the little critters. If you have a termite strike, but no perimeter barrier (or the barrier is there but is breached by a garden or high paving), any warranty for termite barriers under the house will be void. To add insult to injury, termite attacks are not an insurable event!

We have investigated several termite damaged houses this year. Of these, 3 homes are less than 10 years old and have collective damage totalling $456,000. In two cases the owners had to move out for several months while the full extent of damage was determined and repaired. The other owner has two bathrooms, neither of which is usable, and goes to her parents’ house for a shower each day. The emotional toll on these folks is appalling - their lives have been made miserable.

All of the attacks involved termites entering from outside the building, while one had an underground electrical conduit and a hole through the concrete floor as additional points of entry. By the way, steel framed buildings are not immune from termite attack either.