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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2005 Annual Report

1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter?
The Formosan subterranean termite (FST), Coptotermes formosanus, is causing damage to structures and trees and the effectiveness of current control strategies is limited. Where it occurs, C. formosanus is the most destructive subterranean termite in the world. The present distribution of Formosan subterranean termite in the contiguous U.S. extends in the west to California, east to Florida, and northeast to North Carolina. The Formosan subterranean termite costs consumers over $1 billion/year, including repairs and termite control treatment. To bring this pest under control, new and innovative control technologies and strategies will need to be developed for managing it and preventing its spread.

Currently, it has infested 89 counties in 11 states, causing at least $1 billion dollars in structural damage and control costs annually. Left unchecked, infestation of additional counties in lower states in the U.S. will increase by means of infested recycled wood and natural movement. Unlike our native subterranean termites, the Formosan subterranean termite routinely infests economically important hard and softwood tree species, making it a potential threat to our commercial forests.

This project is part of the National Program 104 - Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology and addresses goals: 1.1 Identify Aspects of Arthropod Behavior Vulnerable to Control. 2.1 Detection and Diagnostics. 2.2 Surveillance. 3.1 Genomics and Host-Pathogen Interaction. 3.2 Neural, Sensory and Reproductive Biology. 4.1 Chemical Pesticides and Repellents. 4.2 Biological Control. Specifically, research in this research project addresses: 1.1.3 Characterizing the colonization behavior of Formosan termites. 2.1.2 Developing accurate, sensitive and non-destructive methods for detecting hidden population of ants or termites using applied physics. 2.2.3 Identifing and synthesizing host specific attractants and adapting for use in traps or bait stations. 3.1.5 Using functional genomics and other methods to investigate the social behavior and susceptibility to biological control agents of fire ants and Formosan termites and identifying and clone genes responsible for pheromone production, detoxification enzymes and other metabolic products useful in developing new forms of control. 3.2.2 Characterizing and isolating pheromones and other social cues used by ants and termites in colonization and foraging. 4.1.2 Developing and testing novel means of applying pesticides and repellents that are more efficient, inexpensive and selective including the development of toxic baits, methods to bond agents to material and area repellents. 4.1.3 Identifying and testing new classes of topical and area repellents from previously synthesized or natural volatiles. 4.2.1 Identifingy, isolating, cultivating characterize and test natural pathogens and predators of vectors and pests. Developing methods to enhance the specificity and lethality of control agents. 4.3.1 Integrating biological and chemical suppression techniques with knowledge of behavior and dispersion to develop and test large area prevention and control strategies.

2.List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan.
Milestones for this project are: (1) delineate Formosan subterranean termite infestations in Mississippi and neighborhoods, (2) apply treatments and monitor infestations in those neighborhoods, (3) evaluate area-wide suppression strategies, (4) identify and characterize termite infestations in New Orleans’ City Park, (5) apply bait treatments to City Park infestations, (6) monitor area-wide effectiveness of the treatments and incorporate effective strategies into area-wide termite control demonstration programs, (7) evaluate new chemicals and natural products as termiticides, (8) evaluate Formosan subterranean termite tolerance to commercial insecticides, (9) evaluate population effects of non-repellent termiticides, (10) develop and evaluate non-destructive technologies for the detection of termite infestations.

4a.What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year?
Acoustic Detection: The single most significant accomplishment this past year was the establishment of infested structures with termites and the demonstration that acoustics could be used to detect those termites at a distance from their location.

4b.List other significant accomplishments, if any.
Infestation Characterization: Further infestations of termites in Mississippi neighborhoods and within New Orleans City Park were detected using stakes and traps were established in order to characterize their foraging territories.

4c.List any significant activities that support special target populations.

4d.Progress report.
This report serves to document research conducted under two subordinate agreements between the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and two cooperating organizations:

(1) A Specific Cooperative Trust Agreement with ENSYSTEX under 6435-32000-009-01T entitled, "Improvement of Formosan Termite Baiting Systems."

(2) A Nonfunded Cooperative Agreement with CEDARCIDE INDUSTRIES, INC. under 6435-32000-009-02N entitled, "Ecology and Integrated Strategies for Management of Formosan Subterranean Termites."

We have discovered additional sites of the formosan subterranean termite infestations in rural Mississippi and in New Orleans City Park. Monitors have been installed in order to allow us to characterize the termite populations and their foraging territories. We have established the spread of the winged adults from trees in City Park that contribute to new infestations. We established a termite infested structure and demostrated that termites could be effectively detected using acoustics. Improvements to amplification and processing of the acoustic signals were made.

5.Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.
This is a newly approved project, however the most significant achievement over the life of the project is the demonstration of successful termite detection using acoustics and the improvement in the amplification of the acousitic signal.

6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
As a new project, no science or technology has been transferred to others outside of scientists within the research unit. We anticipate over the next several years to determine effective area-wide treatments to control populations of the Formosan subterranean termite, improve measures to attract termites to baits and to improve the effectiveness of baits stations. These technologies will be reported to other scientists, and incorporated into an area-wide demonstration of termite treatments in the French Quarter. Effective technologies will be transferred to pest management professionals. Constraints to the adoption of these technologies will be limited only by the ability of the new baits to effectively improve termite baiting systems.

7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Osbrink, W.L. Oral presentation entitled: Fire Ants. 14th Annual Environmental Quality Assurance Conference, Dallas, TX, October 18, 2004.

Abstract for poster presentation at the Annals of the Entomological Society of America, entitled: Effect of Imidacloprid soil treatments on populations of formosan termite using independent monitors, November 14-17, 2004.

Abstract for presentation to the Armed Forces Pest Management Bord, Department of Defense, Annual U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense Research Review in Pest Management entitled "An Update on termite control technology", February 2005.

Review Publications
Osbrink, W.L., Lax, A.R., Cantrell, C.L. 2005. Comparison of natural and conventional insecticides against formosan termites (isoptera: rhinotermitidae). International Conference on Urban Pests p. 213-223.

Osbrink, W.L., Tellez, M.R., Kobaisy, M.M., Lax, A.R. Assessment of natural products for control of formosan subterranean termites. Book Chapter 6: 73-87.

Last Modified: 9/23/2014
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