Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Thermal tolerance of an invasive drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis (Blattodea: Kalotermitidae).

Abstract

West Indian drywood termites (Cryptotermes brevis, Blattodea: Kalotermitidae) are an important invasive termite in many countries including Australia where they are spreading across two eastern states. Fumigation is often used to eliminate infestations, but it is costly, has negative environmental effects and does not prevent reinfestation. Heat treatment has been suggested as an alternative. Many insect pest mitigation strategies recommend 30 min exposure at 56°C, but this may be difficult to achieve in structural applications. The potential for heating at lower temperatures was explored to determine the effect on termite survival and gut fauna. Exposure to 40°C up to an hour did not kill the termites; however, 1-h exposure at 45°C was lethal. Exposure for little as 3 min at 50°C or 2 min at 55°C was lethal. Protozoa levels were lower in termites that survived shorter exposures, but there appeared to be some recovery over time. The results suggest that short term exposures to 50 or 55°C could be used to eliminate infestations, creating an opportunity for localized spot heating as a mitigation measure.