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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF THE FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE
2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Access and predict the economic impact of native and invasive subterranean termite populations in Texas through time.

2. Establish and maintain an area-wide management program for Formosan subterranean termites (FST) in selected regions of Texas.

3. Determine the mechanisms and rates of geographic dispersion of the FST in Texas.

4. Analyze risk to the U.S. of invasive termites, including those already introduced and those with potential for introduction.

5. Develop and implement a systematic approach for promulgation to the public and pest control industry information and instructions on termite integrated pest management.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
1. In cooperating with the Texas A&M AgriLife Research program in Agricultural Economics derive estimates and predictions of losses due to subterranean termites from the sales of homes in Texas. The current estimates for Texas suggest that the number of single family homes is 6.5 million. Approximately 600,000 are sold annually, and 20% of these receive a treatment for subterranean termites. The number of homes treated each year exceeds 120,000. The potential financial impact of populations of FST expanding in the state can be determined when treatment and repair costs, which vary according to region in the state, are applied to the number of homes infested at the time of sales. 2. The project will focus on a defined area within Texas where the relative time that FST colonies were first discovered is known. The goal is to evaluate baiting programs and liquid termiticide barrier treatments to manage populations of FST and protect urban forests and infrastructures. Termites will be collected and categorized to species and locations and the invasion of FTS to adjacent properties will be evaluated using genetic tools to provide an ecological perspective to the spread of this pest. 3. The spread of FST has been documented in 28 counties of Texas. We will continue to monitor and document their spread and work with urban foresters and local governments in Texas to heighten awareness of FST in affected communites and develop municipal ordinances that limit the movement of FST-infested materials to local landfills. We are currently investigating risks associated with FST invasion into pecan orchards; an abundant tree species along the riparian passages where FST have been found, to determine if green leaf volatiles play a role in FST dispersion. 4. Projections of various exotic termite species to the United States from Central, South America and the Neotropics will be evaluated and documented. The approach wil include extensive collection and genetic identification through direct sequence comparison and the development of molecular diagnostics so that officials have a means to accurately identify non-endemic termite risks. 5. Education will be accomplished by a multi-pronged approach including maintenance and updating of our FST webpage; providing formal/informal presentations at conferences and workshops for the commerical industries and public. We will also continue to work with the Texas Department of Agriculture on addressing invasive species.


3.Progress Report

Formosan subterranean termites (FST), an invasive insect species in Texas, presently infest 31 counties. Hays Co. (Wimberly, TX) is the most recent addition to the Texas FST infested county list. Prior to this discovery, the most recent addition to the Texas FST infested county list was Brazos Co. and is closely linked with the use of recycled railroad in a 25-year-old subdivision. Homeowners in the vicinity of this infestation contracted the services of a pest management professional who, after consulting with personnel from the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology, removed infested materials from the site and incinerated them, and treated the infestation site with liquid termiticide in November 2009. Our unit has monitored this FST population since discovery, through the use of termite baiting stations to sample colony activity, and light traps to sample alate density and reproductive phenology. Since treatment with liquid termiticides and baits, no active termites have been collected from this site or on alate monitoring stations in the vicinity of the previously known infestation.

We have continued an aggressive FST monitoring program on Galveston Island, TX. On March 3, 2011, The Galveston County Daily Newspaper featured a second article regarding our research on Galveston Island, TX. As a result, 20 sampling sites were added to the overall FST monitoring program on the island. In 2011, we have access to 95 properties at which we are using light traps to document FST alate densities and reproductive phenology at present. Additionally, we have initiated an additional research program in Rockport, TX, which is designed to determine the effectiveness of in-ground baiting to mitigate FST infestations in numerous species of trees.

Our laboratory is engaged in experiments including evaluations of a granular physical barrier against FST. This work is based on the relationship that exists between the size, shape, and interstitial space between granules, and the ability of FST to maneuver between the granules. Preliminary evaluations have provided evidence that this product is highly efficacious against FST. Additionally, last year’s work included field and laboratory evaluations of a new termiticide (chlorantraniliprole) formulation against FST. We are evaluating collateral (transfer) effects of this new active ingredient. This work has provided evidence that subterranean termites are capable of transferring chlorantraniliprole among nest-mates. Additionally, we have investigated the feeding cessation effects on chlorantraniliprole and FST, as well as Reticulitermes flavipes.

During the reporting period, approximately 770 people registered for or attended the Texas A&M Correspondence Course in Termite Biology and Control, the Philip J. Hamman Termite Control Training School, and/or the annual Texas A&M University Urban Pest Management Conference. All of which provided information on FST biology and control. Also, we have updated the current Texas Agricultural Extension bulletin on FST. Progress is monitored throught report, emails, meetings and phone calls.


Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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