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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



Project Number: 6435-32000-013-00-D
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 23, 2009
End Date: Jan 12, 2012

Discover new chemistries as toxicants against termites including natural products and compounds inferred from natural products. Identify, characterize, and isolate chemicals that affect termite behavior. Apply these findings to the development of integrated pest management. Develop practical tools for detection of termites in infested structures and trees. Develop and improve biological control agents and formulations for development of environmentally friendly termite control products.

The Formosan subterranean termite (FST), Coptotermes (C.) formosanus Shiraki, is native to Asia, but it was introduced into the southern United States where it has become a devastating pest and in some states has been described as the most costly insect pest. The total annual economic loss due to all species of subterranean termites in the United States has been estimated to cost as much as $11 billion/yr including preventive and remedial treatments and damage repair costs. Costs associated with the FST are estimated at $1-2 billion per year. In addition to structural infestations, C. formosanus infestations of living trees are common, causing unquantifiable aesthetic damage and serving as untreated refugia and a source for further structural attack. Only few synthetic chemicals are currently available for control of the FST and new environmentally safer control strategies are required. We plan to discover new chemical compounds through isolation from natural products that may be used themselves directly as termiticides or form the basis for new classes of synthetic or semi-synthetic control chemicals. Chemical modifications of active natural products to improve their activity or stability will be made. Another approach will be to discover new potential biological control agents that could form the basis for long term, sustainable control agents. We plan to improve existing biological control strains through improved formulation and dispersal for more effective, environmentally-safe termite control strategies. Alternatively, combinations of biological control agents will be sought that provide more effective biological control of termites. Further we are seeking chemicals from fungi or other natural sources that could be used to effectively direct termites into monitoring/baiting stations to improve their effectiveness by shortening the time for their discovery by termites or increasing the amount of toxic bait material consumed. Chemicals discovered in the laboratory that direct termite foraging will be tested in the field for improved bait station discovery. We will also develop new and improved electronic detection devices that may be used to discover hidden termite colonies at an early stage so that control measures may be implemented before substantial structural damage is caused.

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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