Termites, also known as white ants, live in colonies that can be of many thousands. Invasive species could pose a significant threat to New Zealand timbers and economy.

Identify the problem Identify the problem

Native New Zealand termite species are generally non-invasive and are usually found in rotting wood such as tree stumps. However, the New Zealand Drywood Termite (Kalotermes brouni) can infest house timbers if they are damp.

There are some non-native invasive species such as the Australian Subterranean Termite and West Indian Drywood Termite that have been found in a few sites in New Zealand and efforts have been made to eradicate the infestations to prevent spread and potential damage to New Zealand homes and other timbers.

Winged ants can be mistaken for winged termites. Termites are usually hidden away inside wood and it is only the winged aletes during their mating nuptial flight that they are seen. Good ways to tell them apart is that termite wings are twice as long as the body and ants have distinct narrowing between thorax and abdomen.


  • If you suspect you have found termites you should contact MPI Biosecurity on 0800 80 99 66 or email termites@mpi.govt.nz  for identification.
  • If MPI Biosecurty have advised that the termites are not one of the invasive species you can treat the timbers to control them and reduce the risk of further damage.
  • NO Borer will protect timber from infestation and destruction for several years (up to 10). Injection using NO Borer Injector or painting with NO Borer with turps or kerosene will kill infestations near the surface layers of the timbers (NO Borer Injector can also be used to spray small areas of bare wood such as furniture). It will also kill termite alates (reproductive winged termites) emerging from timbers and spreading infestation. More established infestations deep in large timbers would need drilling into the affected interior and injection into the termite cavities for full control.

Did You Know Did You Know

  • Termites are in the order Blattodea along with cockroaches.

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Termites are often referred to as white ants but are more closely related to cockroaches than to ants. They eat cellulose in the form of plant material and wood. Their guts contain symbiotic microbes that are capable of digesting the cellulose and releasing the nutrients in a form that the termites can use. Because of this wood eating habit some species can do great damage to wooden structures.

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