Environmentally Friendly and Effective
Termiticide Available for Licensing From USDA By
September 9, 2002
A new weapon may soon be available to homeowners battling
wood-eating foes, according to scientists at the
Agricultural Research Service and the
U.S. Forest Service.
The weapon is a termiticide containing low concentrations of
naphthalenic compounds; similar substances are also found in mothballs. The new
product helps control both native Eastern subterranean and exotic Formosan
subterranean termites and has proven effective in field tests in Mississippi
The effectiveness of the termiticide was tested by entomologists
Guadalupe Rojas and Juan Morales-Ramos of ARS' Southern Regional Research
Center (SRRC) in New
Orleans, La., and microbiologist Frederick Green of the Forest Service's
Forest Products Laboratory in Madison,
Green has been researching naphthalenic compounds to determine
if they can protect wood from fungal decay. He and others in the Forest Service
are trying to find replacements for wood preservatives on the market containing
heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium and copper. Through his research, he
found that certain naphthalenic compounds not only prevented wood decay, but
also killed native termite colonies.
Green contacted Rojas and Morales at SRRC because of their
experience in creating effective termiticides as part of
Operation Full Stop, a
USDA-led campaign to rein in the Formosan subterranean termite. The SRRC
researchers were able to incorporate the naphthalenic compounds into a
cellulose-based matrix--a toxic bait that termites like to eat and that is,
consequently, more readily spread throughout their colonies.
Right now, 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 new product should please consumers. It is environmentally
friendly because it is effective in very low concentrations and contains no
heavy metals. It is also cheap, costing only $1 per gram. Products currently on
the market that deliver similar results can cost up to $50 per gram.
A patent application has been filed, and the technology is
available for licensing. ARS is the USDA's
chief scientific research agency.