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Laboratory Assays Evaluate the Influence of Physical Guidelines on Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) Tunneling, Bait Discovery, and Consumption

Entomological Society of America
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Abstract Laboratory assays were conducted to determine whether physical guidelines could direct subterranean termite foraging behavior. Several materials (wood, plastics, and wood thermoplastic composites) were evaluated for their potential to serve as termite guidelines. Termite tunneling along the different types of guidelines was measured. The proportion of baits discovered when connected by a guideline was compared with the proportion of unconnected baits discovered. Termite consumption of baits also was quantified. Assay results indicated that the termites did not respond to all guideline materials in the same way. Termites built significantly longer tunnels along wood guidelines than they did along any of the plastic guidelines tested. However, tunnel length along the wood and the wood thermoplastic composites was not significantly different. The probability of two baits being discovered when they were connected by wood guidelines was significantly greater than when the baits were connected by plastic guidelines or left unconnected (no guideline). Pairs of baits connected by wood thermoplastic composites were also significantly more likely to be discovered than unconnected baits. Bait consumption was not enhanced by the presence of the guidelines. It is likely that guidelines made of wood competed with the baits as a termite food resource.

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