Urban Pest News

Fungal Control of Termites

The insect-infecting fungus Metarhizium anisopliae occurs naturally in soils throughout the world. It kills a wide range of insects, but only under the appropriate conditions. EcoScience Corporation has registered BioBlast, a formulation of this fungus, for control of various species of termites. It is currently being field tested at over 1,000 locations throughout the United States before it becomes commercially available on a wide-scale. The first field tests were done in the French Quarter in New Orleans, where the old buildings, close quarters, and heavy termite infestations presented quite a challenge. BioBlast was effective even under these extreme conditions, and termites remained controlled in some buildings for over a year.

BioBlast can be used to control existing termite infestations in structures and their immediate surroundings, as well as for residual protection of treated wood. Right now it is applied by Pest Control Operators as a wettable powder using standard sprayers normally used to apply chemicals. The formulation is sprayed directly on the termites in their galleries. The termites don't seem to mind the spray, and carry the fungal spores back to the nest on their bodies. They then pass the fungus on to others in the colony by direct contact or during shared feeding and grooming activities. It takes several days to weeks (depending on colony size, the type of termite, and environmental conditions) to destroy the entire colony. Only 5 to 10% of the termites need to be sprayed in order to be effective.

This fungus does not grow at temperatures higher than 95F, so it does not infect humans or mammals. It is also non-toxic to birds, fish, honey bees and earthworms. However, some people may have allergic reactions if the fungus is inhaled directly. This should not be a problem in most cases since the fungus is applied as a liquid slurry in inaccessible areas and applicators are cautioned not to spray the material into the air or leave residues on exposed surfaces.

Source: Quarles, W. 1995. New Technologies for Termite Control. IPM Practitioner 17(5/6):1-9.

For more information contact:

EcoScience Corporation
10 Alvin Ct.
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
(732) 432-8200

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