Borate Protection of Softwood from Coptotermes acinaciformis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) Damage: Variation in Protection Thresholds Explained

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Laboratory and field data reported in the literature are confusing with regard to “adequate” protection thresholds for borate timber preservatives. The confusion is compounded by differences in termite species, timber species and test methodology. Laboratory data indicate a borate retention of 0.5% mass/mass (m/m) boric acid equivalent (BAE) would cause >90% termite mortality and restrict mass loss in test specimens to ≤5%. Field data generally suggest that borate retentions appreciably >0.5% m/m BAE are required. We report two field experiments with varying amounts of untreated feeder material in which Coptotermes acinaciformis (Froggatt) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) responses to borate-treated radiata (Monterey) pine, Pinus radiata D. Don, were measured. The apparently conflicting results between laboratory and field data are explained by the presence or absence of untreated feeder material in the test environment. In the absence of untreated feeder material, wood containing 0.5% BAE provided adequate protection from Coptotermes sp., whereas in the presence of untreated feeder material, increased retentions were required. Furthermore, the retentions required increased with increased amounts of susceptible material present. Some termites, Nasutitermes sp. and Mastotermes darwiniensis Froggatt, for example, are borate-tolerant and borate timber preservatives are not a viable management option with these species. The lack of uniform standards for termite test methodology and assessment criteria for efficacy across the world is recognized as a difficulty with research into the performance of timber preservatives with termites. The many variables in laboratory and field assays make “prescriptive” standards difficult to recommend. The use of “performance” standards to define efficacy criteria (“adequate” protection) is discussed.

Keywords: Australia; Coptotermes acinaciformis; aboveground use; borate; subterranean termites

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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