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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AREA-WIDE STRATEGIES FOR MANAGEMENT OF FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES
2007 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Develop and test strategies to reduce the Formosan Subterranean Termite (FST) population in designated area(s) through area-wide suppression. 2. Develop and evaluate new chemicals for control of FST in structures and trees. 3. Develop non-destructive acoustic technologies and methods for detecting FST.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The Formosan subterranean termite (FST), Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki was introduced to the continental U.S. after World War II in infested materials shipped from the Pacific Far East. It has spread to 11 States since its introduction. It is estimated that the annual cost in the U.S. for treatments and repair is one billion dollars excluding the value of trees lost to FST infestations. It is estimated that the population size of FST in the New Orleans area alone has expanded 35-fold in the previous decade. These large populations are not manageable with existing technologies or treatment strategies. We propose that these large populations are most effectively managed using an area-wide strategy. Successful implementation of the area-wide approach requires the use of non-repellent termiticides or baiting systems in order to impact entire colonies. We will develop new area-wide termite management strategies using bait systems and through increased understanding of the nature of termite foraging. Increased emphasis on new area-wide bait deployment and targeting infestations hidden in trees will be explored. Furthermore, new detection technologies are essential in order to find the hidden colonies that somehow escape treatment in structures or infest trees and buried debris. We will investigate the insecticidal properties of the new non-repellent termiticides and improve the current bait technology. Instrumentation for detecting sound emitted by FST as it forages throughout its colony system will be developed and used to detect hidden colonies to ensure effective placement of pesticides for termite treatment. Effective techniques developed in this research will be integrated into an ongoing area-wide demonstration project in New Orleans' French Quarter.


3.Progress Report
This in-house report serves to document research conducted under a Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement between ARS and Cedarcide, Inc.

The most significant achievement over the life of the project is the development of acoustic devices for the detection of hidden infestations of the Formosan subterranean termite. This technology has been adopted by collaborators in the related project for area-wide management of the FST in New Orleans French Quarter. Further constraints to the widespread adoption of this technology are the development of more sensitive and less expensive sensors and signal processing equipment. Successful implementation of this technology should allow earlier detection of termite infestation and allow treatments before significant damage to structures or trees occurs. This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 2: Detection and Surveillance Technology, goal 2.1.2 develop accurate, sensitive and non-destructive methods for detecting hidden populations of ants or termites using physics.


4.Accomplishments
Natural products as termiticides: We have determined a new natural product isolated from a plant species that shows termiticidal properties and have synthesized analogs of this natural product that are even more active against the Formosan subterranean termite. A provisional patent for these compounds has been filed and further modification of the analogs is expected to yield further improvements in activity. Chemicals resulting from this research might be useful to control termites or provide clues for new chemistries that could be developed as termiticides. This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 4 Control Technology, goal 4.1.3 Identify and test new classes of topical and area repellents from previously synthesized or natural volatiles. Develop formulations.

Termite survival and dispersal: We have also confirmed the continued presence of the Formosan subterranean termite in areas of New Orleans’ City Park that were under floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina for approximately a month. Roughly eighty percent of the in-ground monitors that showed termite activity in the months immediately preceding Katrina showed the presence of termites two months after the floodwaters receded. These findings indicate the need for continued vigilance and termite control practices even in areas heavily inundated by Katrina’s floodwaters. This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 2: Detection and Surveillance Technology, goal 2.1.2 develop accurate, sensitive and non-destructive methods for detecting hidden populations of ants or termites using physics.

Feeding stimulant: A fungal extract applied to filter paper has showed feeding stimulating activity compared with untreated controls. Chemical fractionation has revealed a single active fraction that also stimulates feeding and may be useful in a baiting system. Further fractionation and characterization of the active molecules are in progress. Discovery of feeding stimulants could increase the amount of bait consumed by termites and improve the effectiveness of baits as termite control treatments. A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for the isolation and identification of the fungal metabolite as a termite feeding stimulant has been initiated. This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 3 Biology and Physiology, goal 3.2.2 Characterize and isolate pheromones and other social cues used by ants and termites in colonization and foraging.

Spread of Formosan subterranean termites: Evaluation of the extent of termite infestation in rural areas and dispersal of termites along railroads has been initiated through the installation of light traps and in-ground monitors. Captures of the winged (reproductive form) of the Formosan subterranean termite indicate that only short distance spread from known areas of infestation occurs naturally and that only sporadic isolated foci of infestation have been discovered in rural areas distant from commercial activity. These findings are expected to help with the development of predictive models for termite spread and should assist with the development of practices to limit the spread of the Formosan subterranean termite. This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 2: Detection and Surveillance Technology, goal 2.1.2 develop accurate, sensitive and non-destructive methods for detecting hidden populations of ants or termites using physics.

Biological control of termites: Biological control fungi were formulated with keratin based foam compatible with living sprores. Trees having severe termite infestation were selected and foam injected into the trees. The foam provided for upward flow of the inoculum in voids within trees to provide additional treatment coverage. The successful application of biological control agents within trees would provide a new, environmentally friendly and possibly sustainable treatment option for controlling termite infestations in trees. This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 4 Control Technology, goal 4.2.1. Identify, isolate, cultivate, characterize and test natural pathogens and predators of vectors and pests. Develop and enhance the specificity and lethality of control agents.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None


6.Technology Transfer

Number of active CRADAs and MTAs1
Number of invention disclosures submitted3
Number of patent applications filed2
Number of U.S. patents granted1
Number of web sites managed1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings9

Review Publications
Fokialakis, N., Osbrink, W.L., Mamonov, L.K., Gemejieva, N.G., Mims, A.B., Skaltsounis, A.L., Lax, A.R., Cantrell, C.L. 2006. Antifeedant and toxicity effect of thiophenes from four echinops species against the formosan subterranean termite, coptotermes formosanus. Pest Management Science. 62:832-838.

Meepagala, K.M., Osbrink, W.L., Sturtz, G., Lax, A.R. 2006. Plant derived natural products exhibiting activity against formosan subterranean termites (coptotermes formosanus). Pest Management Science. 62:565-570.

Morales Ramos, J.A., Rojas, M.G., Sittertz-Bhatkar, H. 2006. Effects of diflubenzuron on the peritrophic matrix and fat body of formosan subterranean termite (isoptera: rhinotermitidae) workers. Sociobiology. 47(3):667-676.

Shockey, J.M., Gidda, S., Chapital, D.C., Kuan, J.W., Dhanoa, P.K., Bland, J.M., Rothstein, S.J., Mullen, R.T., Dyer, J.M. 2006. Tung tree DGAT1 and DGAT2 have nonredudant functions in triacylglycerol biosynthesis and are localized to different subdomains of the endoplasmic reticulum. The Plant Cell 18:2294-2313.

Cornelius, M.L., Duplessis, L.M., Osbrink, W.L. 2007. The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Distribution of Subterranean Termite Colonies (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana. Sociobiology 50(2):1-25.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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