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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: TERMITES: BIOLOGY, RISK ASSESSMENT AND SURVEILLANCE OF INVASIVE SPECIES Title: Effect of Seasonal Changes in Soil Temperature and Moisture on Wood Consumption and Foraging Activity of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

Authors
item Cornelius, Mary
item Osbrink, Weste

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 2, 2011
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Citation: Cornelius, M.L., Osbrink, W.L. 2011. Effect of seasonal changes in soil temperature and moisture on wood consumption and foraging activity of the Formosan Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 104:1009-1017.

Interpretive Summary: The objective of this study was to determine whether seasonal changes cause significant effects on the foraging activity and wood consumption of the Formosan subterranean termite in New Orleans and how changes in specific climatic variables affect termite foraging behavior. There was a significant correlation between wood consumption and air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture, but not precipitation or number of rainy days. In the first year of the study, wood consumption was significantly lower in December, February, and March, but not in January, and there were no seasonal changes in the number of stations occupied by termites. In the second year of the study, wood consumption was significantly lower from December through March, and there was a significant decrease in the number of stations occupied during the winter. Because Formosan subterranean termites will remain in monitoring stations and resume feeding during warmer periods of a mild winter, the seasonal decline in foraging activity would probably only have a significant impact on baiting programs during severe winters in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to determine whether seasonal changes cause significant effects on the foraging activity and wood consumption of C. formosanus in New Orleans and how changes in specific climatic variables affect termite foraging behavior. There was a significant correlation between wood consumption and air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture, but not precipitation or number of rainy days. In the first year of the study, wood consumption was significantly lower in December, February, and March, but not in January, and there were no seasonal changes in the number of stations occupied by termites. In the second year of the study, wood consumption was significantly lower from December through March, and there was a significant decrease in the number of stations occupied during the winter. This study determined that C. formosanus will remain in monitoring stations and resume feeding during warmer periods of a mild winter. Only prolonged periods of cold weather caused a significant number of termites to abandon underground monitoring stations.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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