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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: AREA-WIDE STRATEGIES FOR MANAGEMENT OF FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES
2008 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. We will investigate the insecticidal properties of the new non-repellent termiticides and improve the current bait technology. 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. 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
Research continues to develop and improve electronic termite detection devices for discovery of hidden Formosan subterranean termite (FST) infestations in structures and trees. Several new sensor types were implemented (most noteable the acoustic sensor) and a laser based technology was attempted. A provisional patent has been filed for a permanently installed acoustic termite monitor to detect termite infestations in structures at an early stage of infestation. In-ground monitoring stations were devised to allow acoustic detection of termite activity in bait stations and have been installed. A wide range of chemicals extracted from natural products and their analogs have been tested as potential leads for the discovery of new environmentally safe termiticides. Also, a new class of chemicals based on the chromene backbone has been discovered as a termiticide and a patent has been filed. Research continues on various possible attractants for improved FST discovery of in-ground bait stations. Chemical extracts from fungal cultures have been fractionated and tested as feeding stimulants and the chemical composition of one active fraction has been determined. We continue to monitor the extent and rate of spread of FST in rural areas of Mississippi in order to determine the mechanism of its spread and to determine the relative infestation threat to rural communities. Ecological interactions between invasive FST and native termite species are being determined. Continued monitoring of FST in New Orleans'(N.O.) City Park reveal that Hurricane Katrina flooding had little population effects. Grids to determine termite population density have been established in several locations and will be used to test effectiveness of hermetically sealed termite baits. New solar rechargeable light traps have been placed in N.O. French Quarter. The traps were developed for capture of living reproductive forms of termite that can be used to determine their colony origin using molecular genetic techniques. This should help target colonies that have escaped previous treatment using an area-wide treatment program and should improve treatment strategies. Slightly modified light traps were deployed in areas of Louisiana and were used to document FST presence in areas not previously known to be infested.

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; Component 2.2.2 Identify and synthesize host specific attractants and adapt for use in traps or bait stations; and Component 1: Ecology and Epidemiology goal 1.1.3 Characterize the colonization behavior of Formosan termites and fire ants, and hybridization of invasive ants with native species and Component 4: Control Technology Goal 4.1 Chemical Pesticides and Repellents, Component 4.1.2 Develop/test novel means of applying pesticides and repellents that are more efficient, inexpensive and selective, including development of toxic baits, methods to bond agents to material/area repellents.


4.Accomplishments
1. Natural products as termiticides:

We have determined a new plant derived natural product, a chromene, shows termiticidal properties. Analogs of this natural product are even more active against the Formosan subterranean termite and show activity against other insect species as well. A 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 3 Biology and Physiology, goal 3.2.2 Characterize/isolate pheromones and other social cues used by ants and termites in colonization and foraging.

4. 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 winged (reproductive form, alates) Formosan subterranean termites 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. In 2008, FST alates were collected at 65/69 traps in Poplarville and 24 of the other 64 traps in other regions of Southern Mississippi. These findings are expected to help with development of predictive models for termite spread and should assist with development of practices to limit spread of 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.

5. Ecology of Formosan subterranean termites:

Established 4 stake grids at Stennis Space Center, MS, to be used for ecological study and colony characterization study. We have found termites at the sites (FST and Reticulitermes sp.) and are in the early stages of sampling, with stakes having been checked 3 times. 

This research addresses National Program 104, Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology Component 1: Ecology and Epidemiology goal 1.1.3 Characterize the colonization behavior of Formosan termites and fire ants, and hybridization of invasive ants with native species.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of New Patent Applications Filed1
Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings13
Number of Other Technology Transfer1

Review Publications
Morales Ramos, J.A., Rojas, M.G. 2007. Importance of Lipids for Queen Fecundity and Colony Growth of Coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Environmental Entomology 36(5):1014-1017.

Morales Ramos, J.A., Rojas, M.G. 2005. Testing methods for improving survival of incipient colonies of coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) for laboratory comparisons. Sociobiology 46(2):375-384.

Wilkinson, J.R., Yu, J., Bland, J.M., Nierman, W.C., Bhatnagar, D., Cleveland, T.E. 2007. Amino acid supplementation reveals differential regulation of aflatoxin biosynthesis in Aspergillus flavus NRRL 3357 and Aspergillus parasiticus SRRC 143. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 74:1308-1319.

Cantrell, C.L., Duke, S.O., Fronczek, F.R., Osbrink, W.L., Mamonov, L.K., Vassilyev, J.I., Wedge, D.E., Dayan, F.E. 2007. Phytotoxic Eremophilanes from Ligularia macrophylla. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. v. 55:10656-10663.

Cornelius, M.L., Osbrink, W.L. 2008. Effect of Bait Supplements on the Feeding and Tunneling Behavior of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology. 51: 497-511.

Kobaisy, M., Cantrell, C.L., Mims, A.B., Lax, A.R., Tellez, M., Osbrink, W.L. 2008. Activity of 1,4-Benzoquinones Against Formosan Subterranean Termites, Coptotermes formosanus. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 56:4021-4026.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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