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Subterranean Termites in Urban Forestry: Tree Preference and Management

Zorzenon, F J, Campos, A E C
Neotropical entomology 2015 v.44 no.2 pp. 180-185
Arecaceae, Asteraceae, Caesalpinia, Coptotermes, Erythrina speciosa, Handroanthus, Lagerstroemia indica, Piptadenia, Platanus acerifolia, Tibouchina, entomology, imidacloprid, indigenous species, introduced plants, planning, planting, street trees, subterranean termites, thiamethoxam, tropics, urban forestry, Brazil
Urban tree deterioration is a common problem all over the world. Inappropriate plant species choice and inadequate planting may lead to micro and macro organism attacks, such as pests and diseases. Subterranean termite damage is common and may promote tree falls. In order to help urban forestry planning, this work was carried out for 9 years on 1477 street trees in a neighborhood in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Plants were identified to species, grouped as native, exotic plants, and palm trees, and their measures of circumference at breast height (CBH) were taken, in order to evaluate if subterranean termite damages are related to tree size and plant group. Four subterranean termite species were identified infesting up to 27% of the plants, with Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann) being the most common. Palm trees were not damaged by subterranean termites, while native plants are the most susceptible, especially Caesalpinia pluviosa var. peltophoroides (Fabaceae). Among the native plants monitored C. pluviosa var. peltophoroides, Caesalpinia ferrea var. leiostachya, Erythrina speciosa, Piptadenia gonoacantha (Fabaceae), Gochnatia polymorpha (Asteraceae), Tibouchina granulosa (Melastomataceae), and Handroanthus spp. (Bignoniaceae), the latter was the least damaged. Exotic plants were also susceptible with the exception of Lagerstroemia indica (Lythraceae) and Platanus acerifolia (Platanaceae). Correlation analysis showed that the higher the CBH value, the higher the percentage of internal damage by C. gestroi. Infested trees were treated with imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, and subterranean termites were effectively controlled during the 9-year study.