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Termite (Isoptera) control in agriculture and forestry by non-chemical methods: a review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2009

James W.M. Logan
Natural Resources Institute, Chatham Maritime, Kent, UK
Robert H. Cowie
Natural Resources Institute, Chatham Maritime, Kent, UK
T.G. Wood
Natural Resources Institute, Chatham Maritime, Kent, UK


Non-chemical control of termites in agriculture and forestry is attracting renewed interest following increasing restrictions on the use of persistent organochlorine (cyclodiene) insecticides. Non-chemical control involves methods which attempt, without using commercial pesticides, to (i) prevent termite access to the plants, (ii) reduce termite numbers in the vicinity of the plants or (iii) reduce susceptibility/increase resistance of the plants themselves. There have been few adequate trials of any of these methods. Numerous cultural procedures have been suggested, including measures to enhance plant vigour, to manipulate termite numbers and behaviour, and others whose mode of action is unclear. Many are simply part of good agricultural/silvicultural practice and to be recommended. Biological control by predators or pathogens is unlikely to be successful due to the termites' social structure and behavioural responses to infected individuals and to loss of individuals to predators. The use of ‘natural’ insecticides from locally available plant products may be effective in some cases but, as they are not subject to the same rigorous safety and environmental evaluation as commercial pesticides, their use cannot be sanctioned unconditionally. Other locally available products, e.g. wood ash, have not been adequately evaluated. Removal of reproductives from the nest and construction of physical barriers may have limited applications, but resistant species and varieties, combined with appropriate cultural methods and, perhaps, minimal use of modern pesticides in an integrated approach, offer the greatest potential for a long term solution. The lack of critical scientific evaluation of non-chemical control makes it a field wide open for research.

Research Paper
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1990

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