Effects of menadione on survival, feeding, and tunneling activity of the Formosan subterranean termite.
The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, is a highly destructive pest and a cosmopolitan invasive species. Sustainable termite management methods have been improving with the search for novel insecticides that are effective, safe, and cost efficient. Menadione, also known as vitamin K3, is a synthetic analogue and biosynthetic precursor of vitamin K with low mammalian toxicity. Menadione has shown insecticidal activity in several insects, presumably due to interference with mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. However, little is known about its effectiveness against termites. In this study, we evaluated the toxicity and repellency of menadione in C. formosanus. Our results showed that menadione affected the survival and feeding activity of termites both in filter paper and substrate (sand) treatments, and menadione influenced termite tunneling activity in treated sand. In a no-choice assay, ≥90% mortality after seven days and minimal or no food consumption were recorded when sand was treated with menadione at 6 to 600 ppm. In a two-choice assay with a combination of treated and untreated sand, termites were deterred by menadione at 6 to 600 ppm and exhibited low mortality (≤30%) over seven days, while tunneling activity was prevented with 60 to 600 ppm of menadione treatment. Overall, our study demonstrated dose-dependent toxicity and repellency of menadione in C. formosanus. The potential use of menadione as an alternative termite control agent is discussed.