Subterranean termite colonies can be eliminated using baiting systems. However, for a given bait to be effective, the active ingredient must be lethal at concentrations that are also palatable to termites. The insect molting hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E), has potential for use in termite baits, but its palatability to termites has not been examined. The purpose of this study was to determine what concentrations of 20E, if any, cause termite workers to feed less readily. To test this, paper disks were treated with various concentrations of 20E. Groups of 1000 termites of three different species; the Formosan, the Asian and the Eastern subterranean termite; were placed in arenas. The termites had the option of following a path to feed on either a paper disk containing the 20E, or an untreated disk, and the amount of paper consumed was then compared. The results showed that the Asian subterranean termite had the least tolerance for the 20E, the Formosan subterranean termite had a reduced tolerance, and the presence of the 20E had no impact on the Eastern subterranean termite.
Effective active ingredients in toxicant bait formulations must be non-deterrent to insect feeding behavior at lethal concentrations. This study evaluated feeding deterrence for Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, C. gestroi (Wasmann), and Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) when provided access to cellulose impregnated with various concentrations of the insect molting hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E). Termites were exposed to 20E concentrations of 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 ppm and to noviflumuron at 5000 ppm in a 24 h choice-test, and the mass of substrate consumption from treated and untreated media pads was compared for each treatment. 20E feeding deterrence was detected at 500, 1000 and 2000 ppm for C. gestroi, and at 2000 ppm for C. formosanus. No significant differences in consumption of treated and untreated substrate was detected at any concentration for R. flavipes. Potential methods for reducing deterrence are discussed.