Termites love Asia !

From the 26th to 28th of February, representatives from Berkem South-East Asia and France attended as members the 10th Pacific Rim Termite Research Group Conference (TRG10) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Termite experts gathered from Australia, Indonesia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South-Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Vietnam, etc… for the occasion.

Throughout some very interesting presentations, it was shown that termites were truly a global concern. The star of the day was with no doubt Coptotermes gestroi, more commonly known as the Asian Subterranean Termite, a cousin of the famous Formosan Termite (Coptotermes formosanus, Australia and US). Believed to be an endemic species from the Philippines (the Philippine milk termite), it has a particular taste for exotic tropical and subtropical destinations (together with the countries mentioned above, Reunion and Mauritius Islands, Brazil, Barbados, Florida, etc…) and it took it more than 100 years (1902 to 2007) to gain recognition in all these places.

Meanwhile, our little “friend “(5 mm, picture below) has been responsible for billions of dollar worth of damage (80 to 90% of insect damage to man-made structures in Malaysia and Singapore). It likes cellulose (like other termites do) found abundantly in wood or paper (plaster boards). It can also go through rubber or plastic (electric cables) if needed. It attacks both old and new buildings and has little respect for temples or churches.

The Asian Subterranean Termite gives headaches to humans who try to ignore it (by doing nothing and ending up losing their homes!), or try to exterminate it by endlessly pouring chemicals in the soils or else to destroy its colony and its reproductive queen by using baits. In other cases, anti-termite barriers are used.

Thanks again to Dr Chow-Yang Lee, President of PRTRG, www.prtrg.org, the organizing committee and all the members (photo) for this great Conference.