Two UF researchers found that a specific species of termite can be killed within one month after feeding on a new bait.
Their November study was conducted and self-funded by Thomas Chouvenc and Nan-Yao Su, members of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
They began their study in 2013 by growing a termite colony from a single king and queen to roughly 80,000 termites in four years, Chouvenc said. The study uses a new form of insecticide to target the bugs, specifically subterranean termites.
“There is wide misperception on how termite baits work,” he said. “This study revealed that using termites’ Achilles’ heel, we can eradicate whole colonies with minimal chemicals.”
Studying the effects of bait on this species of termites is cost-effective, Chouvenc said. Su found that termites cause an estimated $40 billion a year to structures around the world, Chouvenc said. He said the bait can also eliminate colonies with minimal effect on the environment.
By late 2016, the researchers tested the relationship between different doses of chemicals and the termites’ reactions, Chouvenc said. They found when a termite consumes the synthetic poison, they carry it back into the colony.
“If subterranean termite feed on baits during their foraging activity, feeding on the bait for about one single day is enough for the termite to bring a lethal dose of the bait to the rest of the colony,” Chouvenc said.