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Natural solution: Scientists say a false sandalwood plant extract wards off termites

Natural solution: Scientists say a false sandalwood plant extract wards off termites. (ABC TV)

Plant extract stops termites dead

Australian scientists say they have stumbled upon a plant-based treatment that stops termites dead in their tracks.

About 20 types of the small insect found in Australia are able to feed on wood used in home building.

The appetites of the insects can cause considerable and costly damage to affected homes.

But University of Western Sydney Associate Professor Robert Spooner-Hart says the discovery of a lone fence post in a paddock in central Queensland may hold a solution.

"It had been there for between 50 to 75 years," he said.

"It was the only fence post that hadn't been attacked in the area and of course, the question was why."

Two years of testing has found that the post contains a plant extract called false sandalwood that repels the insects.

"In fact they'll stay on the other side of the barrier and starve to death rather than move through to the feed," Associate Professor Spooner-Hart said.

Researcher Albert Basta says if termites are exposed to the extract, they die.

"They start to get disorientated in the petrie dish, lose the pattern of movement and start to convulse and ultimately they will die," Dr Basta said.

It will take a number of years to turn the discovery into a commercially-available product.

But the natural solution has huge export potential and could revolutionise the building industry, saving homeowners millions and allowing the use of toxic treatments to be phased out.




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Scientists say they have stumbled upon a plant-based treatment that they say stops termites dead in their tracks.

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