DAVIE, Fla – Taking an extended look inside a subterranean termite colony is a rare and almost non-existent opportunity unless you raise one. But scientists like Thomas Chouvenc rear colonies from a king and queen, allowing them to produce thousands of eggs that grow to full maturity. In doing so, Chouvenc sheds a world of light on the species, the colony’s social behaviors, survival tactics and weaknesses.
Chouvenc, an assistant professor of urban entomology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (REC) produced colonies in his lab. The colonies of Formosan subterranean termites he raised are the subject of his latest study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.
“Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to kill the queen. In fact, it’s all about the eggs,” said Chouvenc. “In this study, we demonstrate the process of how subterranean termite colonies feeding on bait products that contain chitin synthesis inhibitors can be eliminated successfully from the inside. We also confirm these commercially available termite baits are effective because they are using an unexpected termite Achilles’ heel.”
“Traditionally, structures have been treated by spraying pesticides in the surrounding soils to prevent these invasive subterranean termites from accessing it. However, a series of studies in the past few years has suggested that such treatment may only temporarily limit the termite’s access. It has minimal impact on whole colonies,” he said.