While most termite treatment options for preconstruction involve impregnating—infusing, that is—the wood used for the structure with termite repellent chemicals such as borates, there are actually alternative termite prevention options possible. For example, the soil or foundation pretreatment is quite a popular choice, where the soil under and surrounding a building is treated with termiticides to discourage subterranean termites from attacking the structure. Then there is the new barrier method being used in Hawaii, where a layer of basaltic rock is used to erect a physical barrier around the structure’s foundations. Finally—and this is the main subject of this article—there is the option of building with woods (specifically, the heartwood of certain trees) that are just naturally termite-repellent, such as the ones listed below.


1. Sequoia sempervirens – only one species of the fairly large redwood family (or better yet, subfamily), this has been proven by researchers to have high resistance to termite infestations and attack. The wood is very tough in itself, but what may truly make it termite-repellent are chemicals in the wood itself, which researchers are currently analysing. The only problem, however, is that the subfamily to which this tree belongs (the Sequoioideae) is endangered. While sempervirens is not yet in the endangered category, it is still classed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


2. Callitropsis nootkatensis – a tree with a ridiculously long list of names in its history (even its scientific name has been changed only recently), this is also known as the Nootka Cypress, the Alaska Cypress, the Yellow Cedar (although it is in fact not a cedar), or even the Alaska Yellow Cedar. This is a wood that has exhibit resistance to termites as well, especially in conditions of short-term exposure to powerful concentrations of the insects. Unlike the redwood species mentioned above, it happens to be quite abundant, and is in fact commonly used for construction.


3. Tectona grandis – fairly well-known already as a wood favoured for furnishings, teak also happens to be resistant to subterranean termites, even to the point of its resistive powers being compared to wood that has actually undergone termite treatment with chemicals. It has not yet been tested for its resistance against the drywood termite species, but its performance against subterranean is quite remarkable. This has to be balanced against its cost, of course, which is considerable.


4. Cryptomeria japonica – the sugi or Japanese cedar (although, again, it is not actually a cedar) is yet another wood that may be considered for termite treatment through construction material selection. It is actually quite popular in certain areas of India—also a country struggling with termite problems and concerned with termite control—as a construction wood and is known there as Dhuppi. Not only is it water-resistant, decay-resistant and termite-resistant, it also has a comforting scent.

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