Main content area

Seasonal Changes in the Caste Distribution of Foraging Populations of Formosan Subterranean Termite in New Orleans, Louisiana

Cornelius, Mary L., Osbrink, Weste L. A., Gallatin, Erin M.
Journal of insect science 2015 v.15 no.1 pp. 115
Coptotermes formosanus, air temperature, baiting, environmental factors, feeding level, foraging, monitoring, nymphs, rain, seasonal variation, soil, soldier insects, swarms, termite control, worker insects, Louisiana
This study examined the relationship between temperature, precipitation, soil composition, levels of feeding damage, and the caste distribution (workers, soldiers, nymphs) of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, collected in underground monitoring stations over a 12 mo period. Because nymphs are the caste that develops into alates, the seasonal abundance of nymphs was examined over a 5 yr period. Numbers of workers, soldiers, and soldier/worker ratio were significantly affected by month. Recruitment and retention of foraging termites in stations was significantly affected by the level of feeding damage. The number of nymphs collected in monitoring stations was highly variable. In the 12 mo test, there was a significant correlation between numbers of nymphs and level of feeding damage, temperature, precipitation, and soil composition. Over a 5 yr period, significantly more nymphs were collected in 2011 than in 2007 and 2008. Peak nymph collections varied from year to year. Overall, peak nymph collections were more likely to occur in Mar., Sept., and Oct. Increasing our knowledge of the environmental factors that influence recruitment and retention of foraging termites in monitoring stations could influence termite bait placement and improve baiting strategies for termite control. Identifying the key factors that cause aggregations of nymphs in underground stations could increase our ability to predict the intensity and location of alate swarms.