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Bioactivity of diatomaceous earth against the subterranean termite Reticulitermes chinensis Snyder (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

Gao, Yongyong, Yu, Shuxin, Li, Jingjian, Sun, Pengdong, Xiong, Min, Lei, Chaoliang, Zhang, Zubin, Huang, Qiuying
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.28 pp. 28102-28108
Reticulitermes chinensis, death, diatomaceous earth, insecticidal properties, mortality, sand, shrinkage, subterranean termites, water content
The effects of diatomaceous earth (DE) on the penetrating behavior, tunneling behavior, mortality, and body surface characteristics of the subterranean termite Reticulitermes chinensis were investigated in this study. Our results show that the workers of R. chinensis were able to penetrate 1- and 2-mm layers of dry DE but not 3-mm layers. After treatment with dry DE for 6 h, the mortality of termites reached 100%, which was significantly higher than in the treatment with DE with a 10 and 25% moisture content and treatment with sand of three different moisture contents. The tunneling distances of workers in DE with 10, 25, and 50% moisture contents were all significantly shorter than those in sand with the same moisture contents (10, 25, and 50%), indicating that DE has a good suppressing effect on the tunneling behavior of workers. After treatment with dry DE for different times (1, 3, and 6 h), many DE particles adhered to the bodies of workers, whereas no particles adhered to the body of workers in the case of treatment with dry sand. The treatment with dry DE for 6 h resulted in the death of all workers, which presented conspicuous abdominal shrinkage, whereas workers treated with sand had no significant mortality and no obvious abdominal shrinkage. In summary, we suggest that dry DE has ideal insecticidal activity against the subterranean termite R. chinensis and can be further exploited for controlling termites inside houses.