Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 8:53 AM

Do landscape mulches encourage Formosan subterranean termite colonies? A review of our status, tactics, and strategies

Jian-Zhong Sun, js841@msstate.edu, Mississippi State University, Coastal Research And Extension Center, 711 West North St. P.O. Box 193, Poplarville, MS

This research investigated the nutritional ecology of incipient colonies of Coptotermes formosanus feeding on seven tree-based, weathered and non-weathered landscape mulches. Incipient colonies of C. formosanus feeding on pine straw, either weathered or non-weathered groups, produced significantly more progeny (> 100/colony) after one year feeding than colonies feeding on the other mulches tested (0-34.29/colony). Regardless of weathering treatment, the incipient colonies feeding on pine straw, eucalyptus, bald cypress, and water oak mulches after 360 d had significantly greater cumulative % survival (53-77%) than the other mulches tested (0-13%), but colonies feeding on non-weathered water oak had significantly lower survival (8%) than that of weathered group (58%). Colony fitness values (colony survival rate ◊ number of progeny/colony) were significantly different between the weathering treatment groups and among the different types of mulches. Based on the colony growth characteristics, mean number of progeny/colony and the cumulative colony survival rate, three growth patterns of the incipient colonies fed on the weathered mulches at 360 d were identified using cluster analysis, which suggests that mulch application and its management could significantly impact the termite nuptial pairís nutritional ecology, and their successful establishment of their incipient colonies during the swarming season. The mulches with resistant natures tested (melaleuca, cedar) could be potentially used as an alternative barrier in a biologically based cultural control program to reduce the risk of colony spreading and their re-infestations.

Species 1: Isoptera Rhinotermitidae Coptotermes formosanus (Formosan subterranean termite)