Pest status: the most destructive termite pest in Australia, estimated to cause more economic loss than any other insect species in the northern part of the continent (Hill, 1942). Can destroy: all kinds of timber, lead sheathing of electrical cables, bitumen, paper, bone, ivory (including billiard balls, Andersen & Jacklyn, 1993), horn, dung, leather, hides, ebonite, asbestos, jute, cotton and other vegetable fibre, silk, woolen fabrics, stored grass hay, sugar, bagged pickling salt, and flour (Hill, 1942; Hadlington, 1987; Andersen & Jacklyn, 1993). Foraging workers regularly sever electrical cables, causing power failures. When electrical connections were being laid to one part of Townsville, interruptions to the electrical supply due to Mastotermes eating through cables were so frequent that relayed lines had to be redirected so that they avoided direct routes through areas thought to have high densities of the termites (Hill, 1942).
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