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A Bio-Security Crisis Has Occurred In Fiji Over Termites That May Have Originated From America

July 19th, 2018

A Bio-Security Crisis Has Occurred In Fiji Over Termites That May Have Originated From America

During the years of 2009 and 2010 the island country of Fiji located near Australia suffered repeated termite attacks to homes, public schools and numerous other buildings. These attacks are still occurring in Fiji, but on a much smaller scale. The economic costs brought on by the attacks quickly shot up into tens of millions of dollars. The termite species responsible for the abundant amounts of structural damage in the country is the Asian subterranean termite species. Although the name of this species gives away its native land, many officials in Fiji believe that the destructive termites originated from the United States.

Asian subterranean termites are often classified by experts as being the second most destructive termite species in the world. These termites have no problem traversing the Pacific Ocean, as populations of Asian subterranean termites have been causing damage in places as far apart geographically as Asia, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and even Florida. Experts believe that these termites arrived in Fiji around fifteen years ago from either the United States or east Asia by means of shipping vessels. The termites likely infested wooden pallets, which are used as platforms for transporting goods in and out of commercial trading vessels. Eventually, the termites were successfully identified in the country with the use of advanced biosecurity techniques. Since the destructive termites arrived, authorities in Fiji have been struggling to control their populations.

During 2010, the Government of Fiji launched “Operation Kadivuka” in an effort to halt the rapidly increasing termite destruction that had been occurring in the country. This operation included over one hundred and fifty government personnel, including militarized forces as well as the National Fire Authority. Within one year, the operation succeeded in rehabilitating eight hundred and sixty five homes and twenty schools that had been damaged and surrounded by Asian subterranean termite colonies. Also, when the infestations first intensified during 2010, thirty cases of termite infestations were reported weekly. However, by 2011, several months after the operation had commenced, the number of weekly termite cases reported had decreased to only two. To this day, government led termite control operations are still being undertaken in Fiji.

Do you believe that East Asia is the more logical source for the exotic termites infesting structures in Fiji, due to the relative closeness of the two regions?

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