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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Osbrink, Weste
item Tellez, Mario
item Kobaisy, Mozaina
item Lax, Alan

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2004
Publication Date: 1/20/2005
Citation: Osbrink, W.L., Tellez, M.R., Kobaisy, M.M., Lax, A.R. Assessment of natural products for control of formosan subterranean termites. Book Chapter 6: 73-87.

Interpretive Summary: The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki) is the most destructive termite where it occurs. Chemical control strategies have failed to protect structures from these termites, resulting in many millions of dollars of structural damage. Natural products have the potential to be both friendly to the environment and lethal to Formosan subterranean termites. We have isolated compounds from various plants and woods and evaluated them for their ability to kill termites. Compounds of the quinone family of chemicals have shown termite killing potential. This research on naturally occurring quinones has given us information directing further research on structural additions and modifications to increase their termite killing activity and merit their use as termiticides. Subterranean termites cost Americans more than a billion dollars a year over most of the continental United States and Hawaii. The isolation, identification, and modifications of natural chemicals that will kill termites can solve termite problems in an environmentally friendly manner helping to reduce the use of synthetic chemical.

Technical Abstract: Numerous plant species have been reported to be resistant to attack from subterranean termites. Many of these plants and extracts derived from them were tested for leads as potential natural product based pesticides. Forty plant and tree extracts reported to be active against termites displayed poor activity against the Formosan subterranean termite at rates < 0.5% wt/wt. Most naphthoquinones were active with a non-polar substitution in the 2-position. Anthroquinones generally had little termiticidal activity. None of the plant extracts or natural products tested were sufficiently active to be considered useful for control of the Formosan subterranean termite without structural modification.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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