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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF THE FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE
2009 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

There are now 30 counties in Texas infested with Formosan subterranean termite (FST). The most recent addition is Brazos County, located at least 100 miles from the closest know infestation, and is closely linked with the use of recycled railroad ties used to border a green belt tree planting in a 25 year old subdivision. This new confirmation was sent to the Texas Department of Agriculture, which, in effect, quarantines the movement of the infested materials. Studies have continued on the effectiveness of fipronil (liquid termiticide) on 32 homes located in the Texas City, Texas, area. These evaluations provided evidence of 100% effectiveness of fipronil through 8 years when applied to the exterior of infested slab-on-grade homes with interior treatments limited to specific areas of infestations. Evaluations of indoxacarb (liquid termiticide) on FST for Phase 1 were inconclusive, due to poor construction elements. The 10 structures in the Phase 2 with FST had a 90% effectiveness rating at 2 years post-treatment. Evaluations of chlorantraniliprole (liquid termiticide) on 10 structures with FST provided effectiveness in 60% of the structures within 1 year. In related work, the use of granules for "Kills Only" was 60% effectiveness for 1 year post-treatment. A termite baiting system was installed at the same time that the light monitors were activated at the Brazos County site. Feeding on the monitors was achieved within 3 weeks post-application. Evaluation of pecan and hickory wood subjected to FST feeding was done in the laboratory, with exposure to know weights of wood for 8 days by 250 workers and 25 soldiers. Evidence of feeding was determined through a comparison of dry weight differences before and after exposure to feeding termites. To date, 32 cultivars have been evaluated, and there is evidence of preferential differences. The most consumed cultivars are pecan, "Money-Maker" and "Stuart,” with the least consumed being "James" and "Van Deman.” The next phase of the work will be to evaluate leaf volatiles as possible attractants to FST in laboratory trials. During the reporting period, approximately 500 people registered for the Texas A&M Correspondence Course in Termite Biology and Control. Specific chapters discuss FST. Two sessions of the Philip J. Hamman Termite Control Training School were held, and over 400 people attended the annual Texas A&M University Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop, which included several sessions that provided information on FST biology and control. We have expanded the web site at urbanentomology.tamu.edu to include additional information on FST. We have worked closely with the Texas Department of Agriculture to inform the public of the importance of the FST if they attack homes and trees in urban and agricultural settings. Progress of this project is monitored through Annual FST Technical Committee Meetings, reports, regular meetings with cooperators, routine phone calls, and e-mail correspondence.


Last Modified: 12/26/2014
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