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Subterranean termites in the urban landscape: Understanding their social structure is the key to successfully implementing population management using bait technology

Abstract

Subterranean termites will likely continue to be major economic insect pests in the urban environment. Public concerns about pesticide use will not abate but continue to drive development and implementation of environmentally more acceptable control strategies for subterranean termites. Termite baits are a promising alternative to soil termiticide treatments for protection of structures, but the correlation between killing termites in the landscape and protecting structures is tenuous given our current understanding of termite biology. We discuss the problems associated with defining the efficacy of termite bait products in regard to determining termite population parameters in the field. This discussion is in the form of six case histories involving measures of termite activity and relatedness taken over a three-year period. Our findings highlight the need to include control populations in studies of termite bait efficacy, the mobility of termite populations over time, the importance of defining the techniques used to describe termite colony associations, and the need to use a multidisciplinary research approach in addressing the question of termite social structure.

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Forschler, B.T., Jenkins, T.M. Subterranean termites in the urban landscape: Understanding their social structure is the key to successfully implementing population management using bait technology. Urban Ecosystems 4, 231–251 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012262727738

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  • Rhinotermitidae
  • termite baiting
  • termite social structure
  • termite control