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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF THE FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE Project Number: 6435-32000-014-06
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 01, 2008
End Date: Jul 31, 2011

Objective:
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.

Approach:
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.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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