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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Biological Control of Pests Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #225210

Title: Efectos de Campos Magnéticos en las Tasas de Consumo de Madera por Coptotermes formosanus, la Termita Subterránea de Formosa.

item Morales Ramos, Juan
item Rojas, Maria - Guadalupe
item Solhjoo, Harry

Submitted to: Revista Protecma
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/16/2008
Publication Date: 6/12/2008
Citation: Morales Ramos, J.A., Rojas, M.G., Solhjoo, H.H. 2008. Efectos de Campos Magnéticos en las Tasas de Consumo de Madera por Coptotermes formosanus, la Termita Subterránea de Formosa.V Congreso Nacional Proteccion a la Madera. p. 99-101.

Interpretive Summary: Other social insects including ants and honey bees are known to be able to detect and to respond to magnetic fields. However, no research has been done on the possibility that termites may have the ability to detect and respond to magnetic fields. Such discovery could open the door for the development of new technologies aimed to attract or repel termites from different sources. For instance, a new termite bait station could be developed with the ability to attract subterranean termites underground. Our study was designed to test for a behavioral response of Formosan subterranean termite workers to the presence of magnetic fields. The behavioral trait tested was wood consumption rates by the workers. A simple test was designed to compare consumption rates of groups of termites feeding on red oak wood blocks with and without the presence of a magnetic field generated by permanent ceramic magnets. Our results indicate that the strength of the magnetic field has a direct impact on the consumption rates of termite workers demonstrating that termite behavior is affected by the presence of these electromagnetic energy. These results open the door for further research aimed to determine if termites are attracted to magnetic fields.

Technical Abstract: Sixty groups of 500 workers and 50 soldiers of Coptotermes formosanus were maintained in costume designed containers and fed with a piece of red oak wood (Quercus rubra). Twenty of these groups were exposed to permanent magnets with a flux of 800 G. Another 20 groups were exposed to a permanent magnet with a flux of 2700 G. Each magnet was placed in a plastic box, as protection, and on top of the wood block to determine their effect on termite consumption. The last 20 groups were used as control and kept away from the influence of magnetic fields. Consumption rate of wood per mg/day was significantly higher in the termite groups exposed to the magnetic fields. Regression analysis showed a significantly positive correlation between the power of the magnetic field and the rate of wood consumption, which increased directly proportional to the potency of the magnetic fields.