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How to safely store firewood for woodfire heaters to minimise the threat of termites

By Kathy Sundstrom and Rob Blackmore, Tuesday June 2, 2020 - 15:06 EST
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Termites can occur in any home around the country. - ABC

With temperatures across the Sunshine Coast set to plummet to single digits, and people preparing their woodfire heaters, what should you do if you see termites in your firewood?



Is it safe to store the wood around your property, or do you run the risk of bringing termites into the walls of your home?

The national architect's advisory service, Archicentre Australia, has advised that termites "can occur anywhere and anytime at any home in the country".

It published the findings of an Industry Study, commissioned by the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association in 2012, which said: "the average cost of termites to the housing industry is almost $4 billion a year".

The good news is those termites you see crawling in the timber you bought at a local service station are likely only the soldier termites.

Col Henschell runs pest control business, Man versus Pests, on the Sunshine Coast and says chopping wood and creating firewood stacks around your property carries a minimal termite threat to homes.

He says once infected timbers are removed from a termite colony, you are "breaking the cycle of them being a social insect".

"It is very unlikely they will reform a nest," Mr Henschell said.

"They need to be in continual contact with the nest and the queen — when you take that away, you take away the purpose of their life.

"They need to feed other termites in a colony, or they will wander aimlessly and eventually die."

Termite eggs by the thousand

However, while soldier termites without a nest or queen are no concern, Mr Henschell says to watch out for the queen.

He said a queen termite could become part of your firewood and lay "multiple thousands" of eggs each day.

The queen could also fly and relocate to where an ideal home was available.

Mr Henschell said the queen termite was quite distinct from the soldiers and was about 25 millimetres in length.

"You would recognise her in relation to the size of a normal working termite," he said.

Mr Henschell's advice for those who planned on storing their firewood was to be careful with putting it around the house.

"I wouldn't be having any wood stacked up on my house, and, if you have a designated woodpile, you can treat the areas around it [with a termite-control product]."


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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