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Colony collapse of Eastern subterranean termites

Bacterial infection in termites experiencing colony collapse. The red coloration in the termite's head is from a colored pigment produced by the bacteria. Rachel Arango, Forest ServiceSnapshot : Termite colonies in laboratory and field tests were rapidly eliminated using a trap, treat and release method with commercial termite toxicants and a patented termite bait developed at the Forest Products Laboratory. Characteristic changes occurred in termite colonies that were on the verge of collapse after the dual treatment, including increased susceptibility to infestation with mites, bacteria and fungi.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Green, Frederick 
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 302


Termites are typically eliminated by treating one house at a time. Community-wide termite elimination strategies are being developed using a method called trap, treat and release and dual baiting stations. In this method, termites are lured to cellulose or cardboard baiting stations (trap), dusted with commercial and/or experimental termiticides (treat), and released back into the colony. In laboratory and field tests, researchers observed five characteristic changes in termite colonies on the verge of collapse after the trap, treat and release method using dual treatments: 1) increased numbers of soldier termites, 2) decreased numbers of worker termites, 3) increased numbers of reproductive termites captured in commercial bait stations, 4) susceptibility to mite infestations, and 5) growth of bacteria, fungi and slime molds within the colony. Colony decline and collapse occurred in both laboratory and field tests. Termite toxicants used in combination accelerated colony decline compared to termite toxicants used alone, especially with the trap, treat and release method.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • University of Wisconsin

Program Areas