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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF THE FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE
2010 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 30 counties in Texas which are currently infested with Formosan Subterranean Termites (FST). The infestation in Brazos County, our recent addition, is closely linked with the use of recycled railroad ties. The infested materials were removed and incinerated in November ‘09. Our unit has monitored this FST population, through the use of termite baiting stations to sample colony activity, and light traps to sample alate (winged termite) density. We have continued an aggressive FST monitoring program on Galveston Island, TX. Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to map and interpolate FST density differentials along the island and assessment of temporal aspects of the swarm intensity. The results of this work will refine predictive models for timing of swarms, and risk for establishment of FST. Sixty sampling sites were added to the FST monitoring program totaling 105 properties. Thirty light traps were installed in Rockport and an additional 25 traps in Austin, TX. Our ‘10 monitoring will result in FST data from 4 non-contiguous populations, and will greatly increase our understanding of seasonal timing, direction, and rates of FST range expansion. Laboratory evaluation to date, of 56 cultivars of pecan and hickory have been evaluated, provided evidence of preferential feeding. Additionally, 47 cultivars were screened to evaluate leaf volatiles as possible attractants to FST. This information was shared with the USDA Pecan Breeding Program. Also, we are re-initiating research in Rockport, TX, to determine the effectiveness of in-ground baiting to mitigate FST infestations in numerous species of trees. Studies have continued on the effectiveness of a liquid termiticide on 32 homes located in Texas City, TX. These evaluations provided evidence of 100% effectiveness of this termiticide 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 a newer liquid termiticide on FST for Phase 1 included 10 structures of which 2 had activity through 36 months post-treatment. Phase 2 of this project included 20 structures infested with FST of which 6 have had post-treatment activity through 24 months. Evaluations of a different liquid termiticide on 11 structures with FST have provided control through 18 months post-treatment on 9 structures. Approximately 500 people registered for the Texas A&M Correspondence Course in Termite Biology and Control. Over 380 people attended the annual Texas A&M University Urban Pest Management Conference and Workshop, which included several sessions on FST biology and control and 3 sessions of the Philip J. Hamman Termite Control Training School were held. We have expanded and updated the website at urbanentomology.tamu.edu 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 is monitored through Annual FST Technical Committee Meetings, reports, regular meetings with cooperators, routine phone calls, and e-mails.


Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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