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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Discovery Using Natural Chemicals to Control Urban Pests

Docket Number: 10700
Serial Number: 9928585

Technology Description:

Natural chemicals produced as byproducts from cultivated crops can be used to weaken urban and agricultural pests. ARS scientists have found that low concentrations of these chemicals interfere with natural chemical defense mechanisms of social insects such as Formosan subterranean termites, ants, and roaches. These compounds, when incorporated into baits, slowly weaken the insect and make it possible to attack them using chitin inhibitors, insecticides, pathogens or predators. This unique and gradual weakening effect allows for the control of these pests in a shorter time period. The chemicals are biodegradable and economical, at less than $1 per pound. In addition, a less active agent is required to give a lethal dose as compared to other chemicals.


Please refer to patent application S.N. 09/928,585, "Use of Gossypol and Related Terpenes for Control of Urban and Agricultural Pests," which was filed August 13, 2001.


Maria G. Rojas
Formosan Subterranean Termite Research
New Orleans, Louisiana 70124-4305
(504) 286-4382 / Fax: (504) 286-4235
Peter J. Wan
Commodity Utilization Research
New Orleans, Louisiana 70179-0687
(504) 286-4450 / Fax: (504) 286-4367


Juan A. Morales-Ramos
(Same as first inventor)
(504) 286-4256

Environmentally Friendly and Effective Termiticide

Patent Number: 6691453
Docket Number: 6601
Serial Number: 10135224
Date Patented: 02/17/2004

Technology Description:

ARS scientists have found a new weapon for battling wood-eating foes, which is a termiticide containing low concentrations of napthalenic compounds. Similar substances are also found in mothballs. The termiticide will help control both native Eastern subterranean and exotic Formosan subterranean termites, and has proven effective in field tests in Mississippi and Louisiana. The naphthalenic compounds were incorporated into a cellulose-based matrix, creating a toxic bait that termites like to eat, and is more readily spread throughout their colonies. Formosan subterranean termites cost Americans about $1 billion per year in control and repair costs, and native termite species add another billion to that total. This product is environmentally friendly because it is effective in very low concentrations, and contains no heavy metals. It is very inexpensive, costing only $1 per gram compared to products currently on the market that deliver similar results that cost up to $50 per gram.

Companies developing insecticides for urban pests such as termites, roaches and ants could use this invention.


Please refer to patent application USPN 6,691,453 (Docket #0066.01), "Naphthalenic Compounds as Termite Bait Toxicants," which issued on February 17, 2004.  Foreign rights are available. 


Maria G. Rojas
Formosan Subterranean Termite Research
New Orleans, Louisiana 70179
(504) 286-4472 / Fax: (504) 286-4419


Juan A. Morales-Ramos
(Same as first inventor)
Phone: (504) 286-4472  
Fax: (504) 286-4419


Frederick Green
USDA, Forest Service
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53705-0239
(608) 231-9305 / Fax: (608) 231-9592

Technologies to Control Subterranean Termites

Docket Number: 18503
Serial Number: 10657982

Technology Description:

Agricultural Research Service scientists have developed three inventions, which, when combined together, could efficiently control subterranean termites. The first invention is a way to economically produce the fungus, Paecilomyces fumosoroseus (USPN 5,968,808). The second invention demonstrates that P. fumosoroseus effectively kills Formosan subterranean termites (USPN 6,660,291). The fungus can be transferred from termite to termite–slowly killing off the colony. This is critical for controlling termites since only certain termites leave the colony to seek food. The third invention offers a viable method for using the fungus in various powder or liquid forms depending on application requirements. It can be used alone or in combination with a chemical agent, making it easy to incorporate into an integrated pest management system. This technology offers an economical delivery system that can be used to distribute the fungus to termite colonies. Subterranean termites are estimated to cost $1 billion dollars annually to control in the United States alone.

These technologies, when bundled together, provide a way to supplement current chemical methods for controlling subterranean termites. The technologies can reduce the need for environmentally-harmful chemicals. More information on ARS termite research projects can be found at: (search for "termite").

In preliminary field tests, the fungus decreased termite populations in an infested tree. Companies that produce similar type termite control formulas may be interested in partnering with ARS scientists to conduct large-scale field trials.


Please refer to patent application S.N. 10/657,982 (Docket #0185.03), "Use of Paecilomyces spp. as Pathogenic Agents Against Subterranean Termites," which was filed on September 9, 2003, and is a divisional of USPN 6,620,291 (Docket #0224.00), which issued on December 9, 2003.


Maureen S. Wright
Formosan Subterranean Termite Research Unit
1100 Robert E. Lee Boulevard, Room 1129
New Orleans, LA  70124-4305
(504) 286-4294 / Fax: (504) 286-4419

William J. Connick, Jr.
New Orleans, LA  70179
(504) 286-4211 

Mark A. Jackson
Crop Bioprotection Research
1815 N. University Street, Room 3301
Peoria, IL  61604-3901
(309) 681-6283 / Fax: (309) 681-6693

Last Modified: 5/13/2009
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