Comparison of various types of bait containers designed to aggregate large numbers of foraging subterranean termites from natural populations in below-ground mound colonies
J R J French, B M Ahmed
At Walpeup in the semi-arid mallee country of north-west Victoria (350 km from Melbourne), there are several indigenous subterranean termite species, none of which build above-ground mound colonies but build their colonies below-ground and/or in trees. This paper describes a baiting experiment in which three types of bait containers were compared in their ability to aggregate large numbers of foraging subterranean termites of the Coptotermes species. These species were targeted as they are considered the most economically important termite "pests" of wood and wood products in Australia. The area was pre-baited with radiata pine timbers that were buried just below the surface of the soil and located around trees and vegetation that were infested with Coptotermes species. After foraging termites had located and attacked the pre-baits, the various types of bait containers were installed on top of the infested pre-bait material. Bait containers were removed after five weeks and each was replaced by fresh bait containers. This occurred three times. All bait containers were transported to our laboratory in Melbourne and the mass of aggregated termites in each container weighed and wood consumption estimated. Bait containers that were half buried in the ground and covered with large plastic sheets and soil proved the most "attractive" of the various containers used in this field experiment. Also, the wood consumption rates of the two Coptotermes species collected from the field were compared in laboratory bioassays.