TERMITE POLICY FOR PARKS, CONSERVATION AND LANDS. Updated December

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1 TERMITE POLICY FOR PARKS, CONSERVATION AND LANDS Updated December

2 Parks, Conservation and Lands Termite Policy Introduction Termites nesting on land managed by Parks, Conservation and Lands sometimes attack and infest adjacent buildings. Termites can cause significant damage to buildings and private leaseholders may face major expense for repairs and for treatment to prevent further attack. Termites enter buildings from underground tunnels that originate from a nest which may be up to 50 metres away. While approximately 30 species of termite have been recorded in the Canberra region, only three of these species are considered to cause damage to sound timber. The two species that cause the most damage in the Canberra region are Nasutitermes exitiosus and Coptotermes frenchi (refer Attachment 1). N. exitiosus nests are almost invariably mounds located within metres of the infested areas - often in adjacent bushland. C. frenchi usually nests in old eucalyptus trees. Their nests may sometimes be found in eucalyptus regrowth, landscaped gardens, particularly in sleepers or woodchips or in damp areas within a house. Although another termite Coptotermes acinaciformis does more damage than other Australian species of termites, it has been found infrequently in Canberra. This termite usually nests underground although it sometimes nests in tree trunks like C. frenchi. Issues Pest control companies and residents are approaching Parks, Conservation and Lands about termite infestations that are suspected of originating from mounds or trees located on Parks, Conservation and Lands land. Parks, Conservation and Lands has been paying for the investigations of trees and mounds in parkland and on nature-strips that are suspected of containing termite nests that are infesting nearby residences. Nests located are also treated at Parks, Conservation and Lands expense. This work has previously been undertaken by CityScape Services and authorised pest control companies. In the past, requests to investigate trees for termites and destruction of nests were infrequent. However, requests have now increased to the point where funding spent on termite control is becoming significant, particularly attempts to locate nests that are not found on Territory land. Advice was sought from the ACT Government Solicitor about the responsibilities in relation to termite control on Territory land. The Government Solicitor states that under the common law principle of nuisance, an occupier (e.g. Parks, Conservation and Lands) has a duty to ensure that a nuisance, once disclosed, is removed such that it no longer represents a nuisance to adjoining properties. An occupier will only be liable for a nuisance if he has failed to take reasonable care to abate the nuisance. The Government Solicitor states: 'Given the state of the law and the circumstances where termite nests may exist on Territory land, it would be advisable to immediately destroy such nests as a matter of prudence, and to limit any possibility of liability by failing to destroy them'

3 Policy Pest control firms holding Environmental Authorisation issued by the ACT Environment Protection Authority for Urban Pest Control will be permitted to inspect trees for termite activity on land managed by Parks, Conservation and Lands and to destroy nests that are a suspected source of infestation to nearby structures; Nests will be considered as a possible source of termite attack if they are located within 60 metres of structures under attack and the termites in the nest are of the same species as those identified in the infested area; Residents requesting termite inspections of trees on land managed by Parks, Conservation and Lands will be responsible for the cost of the inspection if no termite nests are found; Pest control firms inspecting trees or mounds on Parks, Conservation and Lands land for termites, must follow the inspection techniques outlined in the Australian Standard ) and the Guidelines for Termite Control in the ACT. Where a pest controller locates a nest on Parks, Conservation and Lands land within 60 metres of a residence, Parks, Conservation and Lands will be responsible for the cost of the inspection and the destruction of the nest. The pest controller must obtain permission from Parks, Conservation and Lands to destroy the nest. The pest controller must provide Parks, Conservation and Lands with a written quote that details the site location, number of nests to be treated and termiticide to be used. If the quote is acceptable, Parks, Conservation and Lands will contract the pest controller to undertake the work; A pest control firm must have current Environmental Authorisation issued by the ACT Environment Protection Authority for Urban Pest Control under the Environment Protection Act 1997 and must adhere to conditions under the Authorisation. In addition, the pest controller must hold a recognised qualification in termite control or a current NSW pest control licence, be employed by a registered ACT firm and preferably hold a permit to apply arsenic dust in the ACT; Nests must be destroyed by following the procedures outlined in the Australian Standard and the Guidelines for Termite Control in the ACT; When entering land to destroy nests on behalf of Parks, Conservation and Lands, a pest controller must adhere to any conditions applied by Parks, Conservation and Lands; Nests must be destroyed within fourteen days of Parks, Conservation and Lands being notified in writing by the pest control firm; Trees or shrubs on Parks, Conservation and Lands land must not be damaged during the nest destruction process other than drill holes (12-19mm diameter) in accordance with Australian Standard ; - 3 -

4 All auger holes drilled in trees on public land (includes trees inspected and treated for termites) must be plugged with a non-toxic acrylic caulking compound, such as bathroom sealant or antifungal agents specifically designed for this purpose. Do not use dead wood such as dowelling as it prevents the tree from healing or silicon sealants as they contain harmful solvents which can damage the tree; Where a termite nest is not located, private leaseholders may consider the installation of a chemical soil barrier to prevent possible future termite attack of their residence from the soil. Any precautionary action must be undertaken on the lease holders land, at the lease holder's expense and must follow the procedures outlined in the Australian Standards and the Guidelines for Termite Control in the ACT. Legislation Environment Protection Act Australian Standard Termite Management Attachments Attachment 1. Guidelines for Termite Control in the ACT

5 Guidelines for Termite Control in the ACT Attachment 1 There are two main strategies for termite control. 1) Detection and eradication of nests. Detection and eradication of nests. Nasutitermes exitiosus is almost invariably a mound builder in Canberra. If N. exitiosus is found it is likely there is a mound within metres of the infested area, often in adjacent bushland. Nests can be destroyed by physically breaking up the nest and spraying with a registered insecticide and filling the cavity with clean soil. Coptotermes frenchi, Porotermes adamsoni and occasionally C. acinaciformis mostly nest in old eucalypt tree trunks. If these termites are detected, all large eucalypt trees (trunks greater than 30cm in basal diameter) or stumps within 60 metres should be checked. One indication of termite activity within trees is the presence of hollow broken branches. This is only indicative and a more reliable method is to test by drilling the tree. A drill auger (not larger than 19 mm diameter) should be used to bore holes towards the centre of the tree. If termites are present the centre will be hollow or filled with mudguts and the auger will suddenly penetrate the tree easily. A thermometer may be used to determine if the nest has been located. Nests are a constant temperature of 30 0 C. To determine if termites are still active within the tree, termites may appear on the auger or a length of dowel or long piece of grass can be inserted into the auger hole and left in place for several days. The dowel or grass is then withdrawn and checked for termites. Trees found to harbour termites should be treated with insecticidal emulsion administered through the auger hole or with arsenic trioxide (only by licensed operator) or other registered products. All auger holes drilled in trees on public land (includes trees inspected and treated for termites) must be plugged with a non-toxic acrylic caulking compound, such as bathroom sealant or antifungal agents specifically designed for this purpose. Do not use dead wood such as dowelling as it prevents the tree from healing or silicon sealants as they contain harmful solvents, which can damage the tree. A drop-off in termite activity in the feeding area should occur within a few months of nest treatment. If termites still persist for twelve months or more alternate treatment such dusting with arsenic trioxide or installation of barriers will be necessary. 2) Installation of barriers Installation of barriers (either physical or chemical) to prevent termites from entering buildings. Houses with suspended floors can have termite caps fitted to piers and shields fitted on foundation walls. Also the soil under and/or around the house can be treated with insecticide. Termite caps should be checked regularly (every six months) for the presence of galleries around the caps. If galleries are present termites should be identified leaving the infested area as undisturbed as possible. Once termites are identified a strategy for control can be developed usually in the following priority order: 5

6 a) Detect and destroy nest; b) Apply registered termiticide (must be by a licensed operator) to the infected area, with minimal disturbance, to kill a distant colony that cannot be located; and c) Installation of barriers. It is rarely feasible to fit termite caps and shields to an existing building, but installation of a chemical barrier is reasonably straight forward if the building has a suspended floor with adequate clearance. A 30 cm strip of soil 30 cm deep around all walls, piers and pipes should be treated with insecticidal emulsion. If there is insufficient space to work under a building floor there are two main alternatives: - Spraying with insecticide. The disadvantage is that spraying contaminates the whole under floor area and dosages at vulnerable points cannot be controlled closely. - Lift floorboards and treat around exposed walls and piers. This may be a feasible option where flooring has been damaged and needs replacing. References Watson, J.A.L Termites in the Canberra Region, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Canberra. Termite Australian Standards Workshop, held by Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association and Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, 4 May

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