Main content area

Field Evaluations of Subterranean Termite Preference for Sap-Stain Inoculated Wood

Little, Nathan S., Schultz, Tor P., Diehl, Susan V., Nicholas, Darrel D., Londo, Andrew J., Musser, Fred R., Riggins, John J.
Journal of insect behavior 2013 v.26 no.5 pp. 649-659
Curculionidae, Gloeophyllum trabeum, Ips, Leptographium, Ophiostoma, bark beetles, biogeochemical cycles, coniferous forests, decayed wood, feeding preferences, forest ecology, fungi, sapwood, subterranean termites, termite control, Mississippi
Few studies have focused on interactions between subterranean termites and the ophiostomatoid fungal associates of pine bark beetles or root feeding weevils. Field stake tests were employed at four locations throughout Mississippi to determine the feeding preference of subterranean termites for blue-stained, unstained, and partially decayed southern pine sapwood stakes. This study also utilized wood decayed by Gloeophyllum trabeum, a fungus previously shown to elicit a positive subterranean termite feeding response, as a positive control. Stakes inoculated with G. trabeum received significantly more attacks than all other treatments after 16 weeks. Of the stakes attacked by subterranean termites, stakes inoculated with Ophiostoma minus were degraded faster than any other treatment. Subterranean termite preference for stakes treated with either of two Leptographium spp. and the untreated negative controls did not differ; however, each was fed upon less than all other treatments. The feeding rate on stakes inoculated with O. ips and G. trabeum being fed upon by subterranean termites was not significantly different. These results represent the first evidence of wood containing non-structurally degrading fungi (O. ips and O. minus) eliciting a feeding preference from subterranean termites greater than that of decayed wood. The implications of these results are particularly relevant to pine forest ecology, nutrient cycling, subterranean termite control, and the utilization of blue-stained southern pine building products in the southeastern U.S.