Cables sheathed with medium density polyethylene or polyamide were exposed together with highly palatable bait wood to termite faunas in south-eastern and northern Australia, Thailand and southern USA using three methods: below-ground exposure, samples buried horizontally at a depth of 15-30 cm; graveyard method, samples inserted vertically 25 cm deep into the ground; ground contact method, samples placed horizontally on the ground surface, covered with soil and a plastic sheet. Samples were inspected for damage and bait wood replaced annually for six years. No polyamide sample was attacked. Damage to polyethylene was most severe at the Australian sites (across all methods) and in the graveyard method (across all sites), although in Australia in the below-ground method samples experienced greatest damage. Exposing samples together with bait wood within containers for one year, and replenishing bait wood up to three times, i.e. an 'accelerated' test method, compared to the standard procedure of providing new bait wood only once a year, resulted in only very limited damage to cables at Asian sites (Macrotermitinae, Coptoterrnes spp., Malaysia; Coptotermes formosanus, Japan), matching the earlier results for Thailand. But 73% of samples were destroyed by Coptotermes acinaciformis in northern Australia. The Australian termite fauna responds more aggressively to plastic samples than major pest species of termite elsewhere. Crown Copyright (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.