Termite infestations are common in middle eastern countries, and this is especially true in the densely populated country of Israel where thousands of homes have become infested with the destructive insect pests. Given Israel’s relatively small size and high population, it can be difficult to locate areas of land that are well suited for the construction of new homes. This problem is exacerbated by Israel’s policy of readily accepting immigrants and refugees into the country, as there does not exist enough real estate to house new citizens. For example, the many refugees that flooded into Israel following the collapse of the Soviet Union were put up in houses that had been built over a garbage dump. If this is not bad enough, Israel’s government erected numerous shoddily built homes over land that is rich in soil-dwelling termites before selling the homes to thousands of refugees from post-Soviet Republics. Not surprisingly, these paper-thin homes were destroyed by swarming termites in what may have been the most widespread and destructive termite invasion in history.
Back in 1992, Israel’s Housing and Construction Ministry imported tens of thousands of remarkably low quality and pre-constructed homes for incoming immigrants in the cities of Be'er Sheva, Netivot, Ofakim and a few others. The houses were then sold for profit at prices that ranged from 40,000 to 70,000 dollars. Shortly after these homes were purchased, termite swarms began infesting the structures. The termites rapidly brought down walls, consumed entire cabinets and caused thousands of homes to completely collapse, leaving numerous families homeless. By the 2000s, a non-profit group legally represented hundreds of homeless victims of the termite swarms in court in an attempt to make the government responsible for financially compensating the victims who spent thousands on the doomed homes. Thousands of other victims continued to live within homes that had sustained heavy termite damages. Some of these victims live in homes that no longer contain ceilings, doors, door frames, carpeting, furniture or cabinets, as they were lost to ravenous termites. Nearly all of the homes within the city of Netivot were destroyed or nearly destroyed by native termites. The Israeli government attempted to eradicate termites from certain affected areas, but they seem to be too abundant to be reliably controlled.
Have you ever seen what termite damage looks like within a home?