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Effect of fipronil on subterranean termite colonies (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in the field.

Vargo EL1, Parman V.

Abstract

To assess possible colony-level effects of fipronil, a commonly used nonrepellent termiticide, we conducted a field study of eight houses in the Raleigh, NC, area with infestations of the eastern subterranean termite Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). We installed an extensive grid of in-ground monitoring stations on each property (mean = 68.6 monitors per property) and collected samples from these stations as well as from mud tubes in the structure and wood debris in the yard for approximately 6 mo. We genotyped all samples by using microsatellite markers to identify the number and locations of colonies present on each property. Houses were treated with either a full treatment (n = 5) or exterior/localized interior treatment (n = 3). After treatment, the monitors were checked monthly for 3 mo and then quarterly for 3 yr to track the fate of colonies. Wood debris in natural areas was checked semiannually for 3 yr. All 11 of the treated colonies (those attacking structures) disappeared within 90 d of treatment and were not found again. These colonies were presumed to be eliminated. In contrast, 60% of untreated colonies (those located > 6 m from the foundation wall at the time of treatment) continued to persist throughout the study, as did 25% of the likely treated colonies (those occupying monitors 0.5 m from the foundation wall where the treatment was applied). Our results provide strong evidence for potent colony wide effects of fipronil on subterranean termites leading to colony suppression and likely colony elimination under field conditions.

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