UF researchers are studying how much bait it takes to eliminate an underground termite colony – PCT
DAVIE, Florida – A team of students at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF / IFAS) found that less is more when it comes to how many members of an underground termite colony a chemical called a. must consume chitin synthesis inhibitors (CSIs) before the colony is eliminated.
The study, published in the Journal of Pest Science, takes a closer look at how much bait it takes to eliminate an underground colony.
As a major industry standard for bait systems, CSI baits were first used commercially in the mid-1990s. Bait systems act as slow acting agents. Current commercial formulations can provide an inexpensive and sustainable solution to potential damage from underground termites.
“When termites feed on the bait, colonies can be eliminated in a matter of months, as University of Florida researchers have shown through dozen of keystone studies over the past three decades,” said Thomas Chouvenc, assistant professor of urban entomology the UF / IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (REC).
“One of the remaining questions we had was how many termites feeding on the bait would it take to achieve colony elimination?” said Johnalyn Gordon, who recently got her Masters at UF / IFAS.
“We knew from a previous study in our laboratory that it only takes a day for termites to eat a bait to reach a colony-wide lethal dose, but how many termites within the colony must actively feed on the bait remained unclear.” added Joseph Velenovsky, a PhD student at UF / IFAS Fort Lauderdale REC.
Both students worked under Chouvenc’s supervision with 1.68 million termites at the Fort Lauderdale REC to answer this question.
“They used 27 large colonies of termites that the team had raised in the laboratory for four years, each containing around 62,500 termites,” explained Chouvenc.
“It was quite a task to show that the feed-sharing behavior of the bait at the termite colony level was done by only a fraction of the foragers,” said Chouvenc.
The student duo’s efforts paid off. They found that it takes less than 5% of the total termite population of a colony to feed on a bait station for a short period of time to achieve colony elimination.
More importantly, they showed that it only took 77 milligrams of a termite-specific pesticide to kill a million termites, confirming that CSI termite bait remains the greenest termite control technology available.
“It was remarkable to observe that only a small fraction of the feeders were enough to kill the colonies,” said Velenovsky.
“More notably, by the time a small number of workers feed on a tiny amount of bait for just a few days, the colony has already reached a point of no return and needs to be exterminated within 90 days,” said Gordon.
The study concluded that even if subterranean termites can be seen in bait stations for up to three months, the colony is technically dying within the first week, even after a small number of termites have eaten away.
“If the termites feed on the bait, they are already dead, but they don’t know yet,” Gordon concluded.