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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2006 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? Why 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 and urban 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 hormone 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 Identifying, isolating, cultivating, characterizing 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 by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
Milestones for this project are:

FY 2005 (1) delineate Formosan subterranean termite infestations in Mississippi and neighborhoods (2) Delineate colonies in New Orleans’ City Park (3) Collect termites from termiticide treated and untreated sites (4) Characterize termite populations in treated and untreated sites (5) Establish a termite infested structure for non-destructive detection (6) Obtain sensor signals and analyze

FY 2006 (1) apply treatments and monitor infestations in infested neighborhoods (2) evaluate area-wide suppression strategies and continue monitoring (3) apply bait treatments in New Orleans’ City Park (4) assay toxicity of commercial termiticides (5) treat properties with non-repellent termiticides (6) attach sensors and analyze signals (7) improve sensors and processing

FY 2007 (1) apply treatments and monitor infestations in infested neighborhoods (2) evaluate area-wide suppression strategies and continue monitoring (3) apply bait treatments in New Orleans’ City Park (4) monitor termites and determine colony origin in City Park (5) evaluate effectiveness of area-wide treatments in City Park (6) establish field tests in areas showing termiticide tolerance (7) monitor termites surrounding treated properties (8) field test acoustic sensors and transfer technology

FY 2008 (1) evaluate area-wide suppression strategies and continue monitoring (2) apply bait treatments in New Orleans’ City Park (3) evaluate area-wide suppression strategies and continue monitoring (4) incorporate effective strategies into French Quarter treatment program (5) transfer technology to pest management professionals and municipalities (6) establish field tests in areas showing termiticide tolerance (7) monitor termite populations surrounding non-repellent termiticide treatment (8) transfer technology to pest management professionals (9) continue field testing acoustic sensors and transfer technology

FY 2009 (1) evaluate area-wide suppression strategies and continue monitoring (2) incorporate effective strategies into French Quarter treatment program (3) transfer technology to pest management professionals and municipalities (4) continue field testing acoustic sensors and transfer technology

4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
Acoustic detection: The single most significant accomplishment this past year was the improved signal processing of acoustic signals that allow for improved long-range detection of termites.

4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), 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. Traps established along railroads in rural Mississippi indicated localized infestations of termites near train depots and provides insight into means of movement along tracks. Establishment and re-establishment of termite traps within New Orleans after flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina was also significant and demonstrated that termite populations were not decimated by the flooding as was popularly reported.

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

4d.Progress report.
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.

Additionally, this report serves to document research conducted under Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement between the ARS and Cedarcide Industries.

Tests with various formulations of cedar extracts were conducted to determine if the extracts caused mortality or prevented feeding by the Formosan subterranean termite when applied to wood or paper.

Termites were provided either choice of treated or non-treated materials or in some cases were given only treated material. In some treatments, mortality was greater when termites were exposed to freshly treated wood or paper, but after aging the treatments did not result in significantly greater mortality compared with untreated control substances.

In other treatments, treatment of wood pieces resulted in more rapid death and reduced wood consumption when compared with untreated wood. It was concluded that even excess surface application of the cedar extracts to structural wood did not provide sufficient mortality to the termites or prevent termite wood consumption to warrant further testing. Other formulations of cedar extracts should be evaluated to determine their effectiveness.

5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and 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 acoustic signal that should lead to a termite detection system.

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 yet been transferred to others outside of scientists within the research unit and among scientific peers at local, regional, national and international meetings. 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. We expect improved termite detection devices that will be transferred to pest management professionals and homeowners to allow earlier detection and more timely treatments to prevent or reduce termite damage. 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. Constraints to the adoption of the acoustic technology are largely dependent on the incorporation of low-cost sensors and reduction in the numbers of sensors required to provide full coverage against termite infestation.

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).
Meepagala, K., Osbrink, W., Strurtz, G., Lax, A., and Duke, S. Presentation entitled, "Natural Product Based Compounds Against Formosan Subterranean Termites (Coptotermes formosanus)," given at the 25th International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), International Conference of Biodiversity and Natural Products, Kyoto, Japan, July, 2006.

Boopathy, R. and M. Doolittle. Paper entitled "Use of Natural Products to Control Gut Endosymbiotic Microbes in Formosan Subterranean Termite," presented at the 106th American Society for Microbiology Conference, Orlando, FL. May 21-25, 2006.

Cornelius, M.L. and W.L. Osbrink. Oral presentation entitled: Interactions among Formosan subterranean termite colonies in City Park, New Orleans. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. December 15-18, 2005.

Osbrink, W. and F. Guillot. Invited presentation of a paper entitled, "Effect of Katrina flooding on management of the Formosan Subterranean termite," for symposium entitled, "Katrina, Rita et al.: The 2005 Hurricane Season and its effect on entomology," at the 2005 Entomological Society of America, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Meepagala, K., W. Osbrink, G. Strurtz, A. Lax, and S. Duke. Presentation entitled, "Natural Products against Formosan Subterranean Termites (Coptotermes formosanus)" at the 229th American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Diego, CA 2005.

Lax, A.R. Oral presentation entitled: Operation Full Stop: Implementation of area-wide IPM for control of Coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in New Orleans, LA. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Ft Lauderdale, FL. December 15-18, 2005.

Fink, T., L. Gui, Y. Wang, Z. Cao, A. Jaiswal, O. Tahaineh, A. Kapoor, R. Hasse, A. Lax, and J. Seiner. Oral presentation entitled: Comparative analysis of head-banging behavior in Reticulitermes flavipes and Coptotermes formosanus using high speed-imaging and accompanying acoustic data. Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Ft Lauderdale, FL. December 15-18, 2005.

Review Publications
Osbrink, W.L., Cornelius, M.L., Lax, A.R. 2005. Effect of imidacloprid soil treatments on the occurrence of formosan subterranean termites, coptotermes formosanus shiraki (isoptera: rhinotermitidae), in independent monitors. Journal of Economic Entomology. 98(6):2160-2168.

Carta, L.K., Osbrink, W.L. 2005. Rhabditis rainai n. sp.(nematoda: rhabditida) associated with the formosan subterranean termite, coptotermes formosanus (isoptera: rhinotermitidae). Nematology. 7(6):863-879.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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