As of September 2009, the presence of the pest, the European House Borer (EHB), has been detected in 152 finds across 52 suburbs in the Perth metropolitan area – mainly in the Mundaring, Ellenbrook, Gnangara Pine Plantation and Southern River areas. There has also been one discovery in the State’s south, in Albany.
The beetle lays its eggs in untreated pine and the hatched larvae eat their way through the timber. The larvae eventually emerge as adult beetles. The borer has a long larval period (2-12 years) so much structural damage can be done before there are obvious signs of infestation. It is usually only when the beetle emerges through an exit hole that infestation is discovered.
For homebuyers and builders the message is ‘be alert but not alarmed.’ There has been one confirmed case of a roof infestation resulting from nearby EHB infested trees. However, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA’s eradication program, and the release of BUilding Commission Advisory Notes stating that "treated pine must be used in EHB affected areas", will go a long way to preventing further EHB spread.
New timber treatments and increased capacity means that treated timber is now a more cost effective option than it once was. The kiln drying process effectively sterilises any pre-infested timber, and the chemical treatment process protects the timber from new attacks.
If you are building in any of the areas where EHB has been discovered, you should discuss this matter with your builder or local government building surveyor. They can advise you whether timber treatment is necessary, and what options are available. Alternatively, there are also non-susceptible building products such as steel that could be considered.
Ackowledgements: European House Borer Response