Sociobiology: Volume 40, Number 1, 2002

Feature Articles:


Subterranean Termite Pests and their Control in the Urban Environment in Malaysia

By Chow-Yang Lee

ABSTRACT


Subterranean termite control accounted for 50% of the total business turnover of the Malaysian pest control industry in 2000, of which US$8-10 million were spent. About 70% of termite treatments were done on residential premises, 20% on industrial buildings and 10% on commercial buildings. The most important species are Coptotermes travians, C. curvignathus, C. havilandi, C. kalshoveni and C. sepangensis. C. curvignathus which usually attack houses built in areas where rubber trees (Hevea brasilliensis) were previously planted, while C. travians is mainly found in urban buildings. Other subterranean and mound-building species that are found around living premises, urban gardens and parklands, but usually do not attack structures include Macrotermes gilvus, Macrotermes carbonarius, Globitermes sulphureus, Microtermes pakistanicus, Microcerotermes spp. and Odontotermes spp. Control of subterranean termites in Malaysia currently relies heavily on pre- and post-construction soil treatments. Dusting is also commonly done in buildings. The ban in 1998 on chlordane usage as a soil termiticide, has caused pest control operators to opt for organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides. Field evaluations of hexaflumuron baits against various Coptotermes species in natural habitats and in buildings showed very promising results. The activity of all baited termite colonies diminished within 70 days of bait application with the total amount of hexaflumuron consumed being less than 1.5 g. The potential of baiting and challenges to termite control in Malaysia are discussed.

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Termite Problem Species and Management of Termite Problems in Australia

By M. Lenz

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Recent Development in the Control of Japanese Subterranean Termites

By Munezoh Takahashi & Tsuyoshi Yoshimura

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Two species of subterranean termites, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki and Reticulitermes speratus (Kolbe), cause great economic losses in wooden constructions in Japan. Because most Japanese houses have a crawl space under the first floor, the control of subterranean termites has been commonly achieved by treating soil and floor woodwork with termiticides. In the crawl space, termiticidal water emulsion is usually applied to soil, but use of termiticidal granules is starting as a way of reducing the atmospheric concentration of chemicals during operation. Several improved methods have been devised using micro-capsulated formulations, foaming formulations, termiticide-treated sheets, and easy-hardening pastes containing termiticides. Formulations for woodwork treatment should contain termiticides and fungicides, and be applied to timbers by pressure and/or surface treatments. On-ground concrete slabs are becoming popular in Japan to control the humidity in the crawl space. Humidity-regulating materials are also used to produce unfavorable conditions for termites and fungi. Increased public criticism of man-made chemical products supports the development of alternative termite control methods. Physical barriers using stainless steel mesh are being introduced from Australia, and anti-termite cups for floor posts have been devised and marketed. The idea of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for termite control has long been considered in Japan. A bait system using an inhibitor of chitin synthesis as the toxicant was introduced a few years ago from the U.S. Biological control using entomogenous fungi appears to be promising when combined with baiting techniques.

KEY WORDS: Coptotermes formosanus, Reticulitermes speratus, crawl space, physical barrier, bait-toxicant system, biological control

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Termite Fauna in China and their Economic Importance

By J. H. Zhong & L. L. Liug

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The termite fauna of China comprises 476 described species belonging to 44 genera in 4 families. The distribution of termites which damage buildings, river dikes, reservoir dams, trees, crops etc. in China, and the 9 key pest species are listed. The economic loss caused by termites amounts to RMB 1700-2000 million per annum. South China has more serious termite problems than any other area in China. The termite fauna of this region comprises over 200 species. In Guangdong Province, about 80-90% of the buildings have been damaged or are being damaged by Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, Reticulitermes flaviceps Oshima, Cryptotermes domesticus (Haviland), and Cr. declivis Tsai et Chen. Over 90% of the river dikes and reservoir dams are infested by Odontotermes formosanus (Shiraki) and Macrotermes barneyi Light. Baiting techniques, which have been developed over the years to control termites, are reviewed and discussed. The potential of other methods for termite control is assessed.

KEYWORDS: Coptotermes formosanus, Odontotermes formosanus, buildings, river dikes, reservoir dams, crops, trees, control

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Economically Important Termite Species in India

By D. Rajagopal

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In India termites are widely distributed in red, sandy loams, lateritic and red loam soils. They are known to damage major field crops such as wheat, maize, sugarcane, cotton, groundnut, pulses, and forest plantation trees such as Eucalyptus, Silver oak, Casuarina and all kinds of timber in buildings. Termites attack the roots of crops at all stages of plant development, seed sets, newly planted seedlings, tree trunks and also wooden logs. In natural ecosystems, termites feed an organic matter too. They are responsible for reducing soil fertility by removing both plant and animal debris and locking them in their underground nests thus making them unavailable for plant growth. They are also litter consumers in forest ecosystems and contribute to the break down of dead wood and decomposition of organic matter on the forest floor. Losses due to termites run to several millions of rupees in agricultural crops alone. About 10-25 per cent loss is estimated in most field and forest crops. Severe loss in different regions of India has been recorded on highly susceptible crops such as wheat and sugarcane in northern India, maize, groundnuts, sunflower and sugarcane in southern India, tea in north eastern India and cotton in western India. Out of 300 species of termites known so far from India, about 35 species have been reported as damaging agricultural crops and timber in buildings. The majority of the pest species are soil inhabiting, either as mound builders or as subterranean nest builders. The major mound building species are 0dontotermes obesus, O. redemanni and O. wallonensis. The major subterranean species are Heterotermes indicola, Coptotermes ceylonicus, C. heimi, Odontotermes horni, Microtermes obese Trinervitermes biformis and Microcerotermes beesoni. Termite abundance, distribution, nesting, pest status etc., under Indian conditions is discussed.

KEY WORDS: Odontotermes obesus, Heterotermes indicola, Coptotermes ceylonicus, Microtermes obesi, Trinervitermes biformis, agriculture, forestry, buildings, subterranean termites

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Termites as Pests of Crops, Forestry, Rangeland and Structures in Southern Africa and Their Control

By Jannette D. Mitchell

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Termites are an important component of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems. The majority of species are economically harmless; of a total of 50 termite genera recorded from southern Africa, only 18 have one or more known pest species. Termites attack a wide range of crops at all stages of the growth cycle. Crop losses estimated at between 3-100% have been recorded. Post-harvest loss due to termite activity is common on many small-scale farms. Members of the fungus-growing sub-family Macrotermitinae (Termitidae) are responsible for the majority of crop damage and 90% of tree mortality in forestry. The genera most commonly involved include; Macrotermes, Odontotermes, Pseudacanthotermes, Synacanthotermes, Microtermes, Ancistrotermes, and Allodontermes together with Microcerotermes (Termitinae). The harvester termite, Trinervitermes trinervoides (Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae), common to the southern part of the region, is an occasional pest of overgrazed rangelands. However, Hodotermes mossambicus (Hodotermitidae) is the major role-player in the destruction of rangeland in the arid and semi-arid areas throughout the region. Populations of this species build up during dry summers and increase over successive dry years to a level where they remove 60% or more of the standing grass biomass and all the litter, posing severe competition to domestic stock and game and exposing soils to erosion by both wind and water. This species also periodically causes severe damage to crops. While termites rarely attack indigenous tree species, exotic species such as Eucalyptus and Acacia, grown commercially and in communal woodlots, are frequently severely damaged. Seedlings in the nurseries and newly planted trees are particularly susceptible to attack during the first 6-9 months after planting. Mortalities vary between 19-78%, occasionally approaching 100% in some areas. The indigenous East African subterranean termite Coptotermes amanii (Rhinotermitidae) is responsible for severe damage to buildings and wooden structures. Psammotermes allocerus (Rhinotermitidae), widespread in the more arid western parts of the region, regularly infests buildings and causes considerable damage to timber. Termites of the genera Macrotermes and Odontotermes cause the heaviest destruction of seasoned timber both within buildings and extramurally. Indigenous dry-wood termites, while occasionally infesting buildings, are not a serious threat. The exotic species, Cryptotermes brevis (Kalotermitidae) has, however, caused considerable damage in coastal areas of South Africa. A case is made for increased research effort on sustainable non-chemical control and for standardisation of ways of quantifying termite damage and linking it to yield loss.

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Termites of Mariana Islands and Philippines, Their Damage and Control

By Lee Yudin

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The Mariana and Philippine archipelagos lie in the western Pacific ocean and are separated from each other by a few thousand kilometers. Subterranean termites are considered one of the most destructive insect pests of both residential and commercial structures in these island archipelagos. Present studies have shown that many of the subterranean termite fauna between these two geographical island groups are closely related. This maybe due in fact to the Spanish colonizers who once governed both island entities and had well established trade routes that transported lumber and other wooden materials between Manila and Mariana islands. Today, subterranean termites cause millions of dollars of economic loss to both urban and rural dwellers. Due to climatic conditions that are hot, humid and wet during most of the year, termite feeding is continuous during most months of the year. Coptotermes vastator is the primary subterranean termite species found inhabiting most urban structures in Manila and on the island of Guam and Saipan. Studies utilizing mark and recapture methodologies, wood consumption rates, and the use of hexaflumuron bait have shown conclusive evidence of successfully eliminating C. vastator colonies from single family dwellings, apartment complexes, and large commercial buildings. However, subterranean termites of Schedorhinotermes, Nasuitermes, Microcerotermes, and Macrotermes species that can be found inhabiting many rural dwellings, have been harder to control with hexaflumuron baits. The usefulness of these findings will aid in the reduction of chemical applications in urban settings in sensitive island environments.

KEY WORDS: Coptotermes vastator, subterranean termites, hexaflumuron, Pacific islands

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Termite Damage to Buildings in the Province of Córdoba, Spain

By Miguel Gaju, Ma. José Notario, Rosa Moral, Eugenia Alcaide, Teresa Moreno, Rafael Molero & Carmen Bach de Roca

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In 1997 extensive and severe termite damage was reported in Palenciana, a small town in the Southwest of Córdoba. Following the inspection that showed nearly half of the buildings in the town were infested, we put forward a control project taking into account the characteristics of Spanish urbanization and construction practice.

The province of Córdoba is administratively divided into 74 towns plus the capital. The remaining towns were also surveyed for infestations in order to determine the impact of termites on the province. We have found termites in buildings in 66 (88%) towns. Although we did not find termites in 9 (12%) towns, this does not necessarily imply their absence there. The extent of the termite damage in each town varies. In 33 (45%) towns damage has been found in only a few houses but, one or more extended areas were affected in the rest.

A more elaborate survey was done in Palenciana by using mark-recapture methods to estimate foraging ranges and population sizes for some colonies. In Palenciana we have information from 350 of the approximately 640 houses, in which we found termite damage in 164. Because the affected area is clearly defined we have established a zone of 308 buildings (48.1% of the town), in which the damaged houses represent 53.2% of the zone but, we can anticipate that all will be eventually affected if no treatments are applied. Foraging territories of 6 colonies surveyed ranged from 50 to 2342 m2, with estimated populations of 157,846 to 5,200,000 termites per colony.

KEY WORDS: Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae, Reticulitermes lucifugus, Urban pest, Spain

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Distribution and Management of Termites in Hawaii

By J. K. Grace, R. J. Woodrow & J. R. Yates

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Eight termite species are currently considered to be established in the Hawaiian islands, although four of these are fairly recent introductions with limited distributions. The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) is the most economically serious pest in Hawaii. Methods applied to prevent and control termite infestations include physical and chemical barriers, use of preservative treated wood (and naturally-resistant woods to a limited extent), soil insecticide applications, and baiting systems. In addition to refinements to existing technology, research efforts are focused on improving our understanding of termite biology and behavior in Hawaii, and development of novel biologically-based approaches to termite management.

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Novel Technologies for Subterranean Termite Control

By Nan-Yao Su

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When building repair cost is included, the economic impacts of termites may reach up to $11 billion annually the United States. The dollar amount spent on termite control will continue to grow as the living standard in developing countries is improved and more termite pest species are transported by human commerce. Currently-registered soil termiticides include chlorpyrifos, permethrin, cypermethrin, bifenthrin, fenvalerate, imidacloprid, and flpronil. Physical barriers such as stainless-steel mesh and soil particle barriers are also available but have yet to see widespread use; while insecticide-impregnated polymer barriers may become available in the near future. Aside from these barrier techniques, population control using baits have become more widely adopted by the industry in recent years. Baits containing hexaflumuron, sulfluramid, or diflubenzuron are currently available for the pest control industry. As evidenced from these developments, future technologies need to conform to efficacy and environmental standards. It is no longer satisfactory to rely merely on barriers for structural protection from subterranean termites, and future control measures need to address structure protection through population management of subterranean termites (i.e., baits). It will probably become less acceptable to spray a large quantity of insecticide in soil to protect a house from subterranean termites, and future technologies need to use less pesticide (i.e., baits), no pesticide at all (i.e., physical barriers), or controlled-release pesticide barriers (i.e., insecticide impregnated polymer).

KEY WORDS: Soil termiticide barrier, physical barriers, insecticide impregnated polymer barrier, baits

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Termites as an Urban Problem in South America

By Luiz Roberto Fontes & Sidney Milano

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New data on the distribution and infestation patterns of termites pests in South American urban areas are presented. This includes wood-feeding, arboreal, subterranean and soil-dwelling termites. The evolution of the infestation of the introduced subterranean termite, Coptotermes havilandi, is studied in the city of São Paulo and four historic phases are recognized. Changes in the control concepts in each phase are described. The complex interaction of urban areas, biology of the pest species, and control operations are discussed and they are considered decisive in the dynamism of the urban infestation by termites. The modifications of the original environment by the urban development, in association with the extinction of the native fauna, seems to influence strongly the success of pest termites in tropical environments.

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Reticulitermes lucifugus in Urban Households in Uruguay (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

By A. Aber & M. Beltrami

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Reticulitermes lucifugus is a xylophagous species with socioeconomic and environmental importance in Uruguay. The objective of this paper is to provide information about (1) the present distribution of this pest termite in the South-Southeast of Uruguay, (2) its relation with ecosystems, and (3) the spread of the termite in Uruguay. The research tool employed was a database built up from information provided by Uruguayan pest control companies whose data were compared to, and enlarged by our field data. We concluded that areas of medium and light soils, are of higher risk of termite invasion, thus requiring preventive treatment of new buildings.

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Termite Pests and their Control in Urban Brazil

By Sidney Milano & Luiz Roberto Fontes

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A survey was developed on the inspection data sheets of 500 buildings in the city of São Paulo, in the southeast region of Brazil. Infestation by the introduced subterranean termite, Coptotermes havilandi, predominates and aerial nests were found in 42,7% of the infested buildings. The urban infestation by C. havilandi is analyzed as a dynamic system in the complexity of the urban areas in Brazil, influenced by building patterns, urban trees, biological peculiarities of the termite, and control measures. The termite interacts largely with the urban ecosystem and it is necessary to understand this dynamic system for each specific infestation case in order to be able to choose the right control strategy.

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Termite Pests in Eucalyptus Forests of Brazil

By Carlos Frederico Wilcken, Carlos Gilberto Raetano & Luiz Carlos Forti

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The termite problem in eucalyptus forest plantations in Brazil has been registered since 1908. The main termite pests can be separated in four groups: a) seedling/ sapling termites; b) heartwood termites; c) bark termites and d) wood termites. The termites in the first group attack root and stalk bases of young eucalyptus plants. The most common species are Syntermes spp. and Cornitermes spp. and they are a serious obstacle to early eucalyptus developing. The heartwood termites attack formed trees destroying eucalyptus heartwood. Coptotermes testaceus is the most cited species in reports, but more species probably occur. Plant mortality caused by seedling/sapling termites vary of 10-70 %. There are not effective control methods to heartwood termites. The main seedling/sapling termite control strategy is the chemical barrier around root systems of plants. Nowadays, studies are being carried out to determine monitoring systems to termite infestations. Early results indicate that proportionally, few areas really need insecticide application, due to spatial distribution of termites to be aggregated. Therefore, it is necessary to develope techniques rationalizing insecticide utilization in eucalyptus plantations, to keep production systems feasible and to be suitable for environmental exigencies.

KEY WORDS: forest pest, insect damage, pest control

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Termites as Structural Pests in Argentina

By Gladys J. Torales

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Termite pests of buildings in Argentina include species of the families Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae. In the Rhinotermitidae family, Heterotermes longiceps is responsible for severe infestations of the built historic and cultural patrimony in the city of Corrientes, NE Argentina. Infestations of H. longiceps have also been reported, although sporadically, in schools and houses and commonly the only pest infesting the building. In the Termitidae family, the most important species is Nasutitermes corniger, which attacks a large variety of natural and synthetic materials: wood, cork, polystyrene, X-ray plates, piles of glass, canvas, cardboard and all kinds of paper. The nests are found in roofs, walls, perimeter walls and in the trees surrounding the infested building. This species occurs only in the urban area of the city of Corrientes, where it was introduced and is a pest of buildings. Other infestations in the Provinces of Corrientes and Chaco are mainly of houses, and are caused by Microcerotermes strunckii, Cortaritermes fulviceps, Nasutitermes aquilinus, Amitermes amifer and an unidentified species of Termes.

Argentina has a diverse fauna of termites, with 26 species assigned in a first faunistic survey (Torales et. al. 1997). The role of the termites of Argentina was discussed by Torales (1998).

This paper presents a review of problems caused by termites in the urban areas of Argentina. Species of the families Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae (taxonomic identifications by L.R. Fontes) can infest buildings and cause severe damage. Attacks were reported from houses, university buildings, schools, museums, shops of handicrafts, abbeys, churches, libraries, sport clubs and other recreational buildings, hospitals and health institutions, and historic or cultural buildings.

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Creating Installation Guidelines for A Particle Barrier for Formosan Subterranean Termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

By Julian R. Yates III, Kenneth Grace & James N. Reinhardt

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Surface Signs Indicating the Foraging Activity of the Harvester Termite Hodotermes mossambicus Hagen (Isoptera; Hodotermitidae) - A Review

By Sabine Grube

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The assessment of harvester termite, Hodotermes mossambicus, foraging behavior is difficult because generally the only above ground indicators of colony presence are their foraging holes and soil dumps. There is no direct correlation between soil dumps and foraging activity in this species. We demonstrate in this study, however, that only the number of foraging holes is a reliable indicator of foraging activity in H. mossambicus.

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Multilocus DNA Fingerprinting and Microsatellite Genotyping: Complementary Molecular Approaches to Investigating Colony and Population Genetic Structure in Subterranean Termites

By C. Husseneder, E. L. Vargo, and J. K. Grace

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A variety of molecular techniques are being increasingly used in basic and applied termite research. Each method is best suited for investigating genetic structure at a particular level of organization. The use of multiple techniques simultaneously allows for analysis of both fine scale and large scale genetic structure. We provide an example of such an approach in research in progress in which we are employing multilocus DNA fingerprinting and microsatellite genotyping to investigate the population and colony genetic structure of the severe termite pest Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in Hawaii. Comprehensive knowledge of the genetic structure of termite populations will provide insight into colony social and spatial organization as well as dispersal patterns and will thus facilitate remedial and regulatory control efforts.

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