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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICAL AND BIORATIONAL CONTROL OF THE FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE Title: Effect of Bait Supplements on the Feeding and Tunneling Behavior of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

Authors
item Cornelius, Mary
item Osbrink, Weste

Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 16, 2007
Publication Date: March 31, 2008
Citation: 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.

Interpretive Summary: One of the major limitations to the use of commercial baits for control of subterranean termites is the low rate of discovery of baits by termites in the field. The effectiveness of baits could be improved if foraging termites could be directed towards bait stations through the use of attractants. The current study examined the effects of water soluble chemicals from a water extract of Summon Preferred Food Source disks and from a sports drink, Gatorade, on the feeding and tunneling behavior of the Formosan subterranean termite. Both the Summon extract and the Gatorade significantly increased the rate of tunneling in treated sand. Termites were less likely to feed on wood blocks when sand was treated with Gatorade, presumably because they were able to obtain some nourishment from the Gatorade. Increasing our understanding of how water soluble chemicals influence the foraging behavior of Formosan subterranean termites will enhance our ability to use attractants and feeding stimulants more effectively to improve the efficacy of commercial bait products.

Technical Abstract: The current study examined the effects of water soluble chemicals from an aqueous extract of Summon Preferred Food Source disks and from a sports drink, Gatorade, on the feeding and tunneling behavior of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. Both Summon extract and Gatorade significantly increased the rate of tunneling in treated sand. However, termites did not show directional tunneling in response to Gatorade. An aqueous extract of Summon disks had a stronger effect on the rate of tunneling than Gatorade. In both choice and no-choice tests, there was significantly more feeding on wood blocks in the containers with sand moistened with water than in containers with Gatorade-treated sand. Summon extract-treated sand had no effect on termite consumption of wood blocks. In experiments where sand was dyed with solutions of Nile Blue A, termites were more likely to become blue when sand was dyed with a Gatorade/Nile Blue A solution than when sand was dyed with Nile Blue A dissolved in water or in an aqueous extract of Summon disks. These results suggest that termites were ingesting the Gatorade, but not the Summon extract. Termites were less likely to feed on wood blocks when sand was treated with Gatorade, presumably because they were able to obtain some nourishment from the Gatorade. Increasing our understanding of how water soluble chemicals influence the foraging behavior of Formosan subterranean termites will enhance our ability to use attractants and feeding stimulants more effectively to improve the efficacy of commercial bait products.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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