Entomology Today

Termites Tunnel and Transport Food Faster at Higher Temperatures

A new study shows that a colony of Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) wiped out with insecticide bait is likely to be invaded by a a neighboring colony, which is then also exposed to the bait. (Photo credit: Scott Bauer, bugwood.org)

Entomologists at the University of Florida recently published an article in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America that may help to explain the seasonal activities of termites.

The effects of temperature on tunneling and food-transportation activity of four subterranean termite species — Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann), Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks), and Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) — were examined by the researchers, who observed the termites at 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35°Celsius.

The results showed that termites reached food faster at higher temperatures (with the exception of R. virginicus), and as the temperature increased, tunneling speed also generally increased.

The number of food particles and their total linear distance from the food source generally increased with the rise of temperature for C. formosanus, R. virginicus, and C. gestroi, while those for R. flavipes were temperature independent.

“Understanding how termites transport food and what factors influence this process may aid the improvement of subterranean termite control strategies,” the authors wrote. “The results of this study provide further evidence that the cold winter season may not be ideal for baiting programs.”

Read more at:

Tunneling and Food Transportation Activity of Four Subterranean Termite Species (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) at Various Temperatures