Charring does not affect wood infestation by subterranean termites
Author: Peterson, C.J.; Gerard, P.D.; Wagner, T.L.
Source: The Netherlands Entomological Society Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, Vol. 126: 78-84
Fire is an important part of forest ecosystems, as is the insect fauna. Changes in wood brought about
by fire may alter the ability of termites to use the wood, interrupting the decay cycle of woody debris.
The ability of termites to find, infest, and feed upon wood after it had been charred was evaluated in
the laboratory and field. Eastern subterranean termites,
Rhinotermitidae), fed on char from burned wood had significantly reduced numbers of protozoa
compared to termites fed on pine shavings, but significantly more than starved termites. The ability
of termites to find and infest wood was not affected by surface charring. In a laboratory choice test,
there were no significant differences in the onset of feeding by termites between charred and
non-charred wood boards. Likewise in the field, no differences were observed in the time to initial
attack by termites on charred and non-charred wood boards or bolts. Because termites will likely
survive fires of low to moderate intensity, in most cases, there should be no disruption of the termite
contribution to forest nutrient and carbon cycles.
Keywords: char, protozoa, fire, wood selection, Reticulitermes flavipes, Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae
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Peterson, C.J.; Gerard, P.D.; Wagner, T.L. 2007. Charring does not affect wood infestation by subterranean termites. The Netherlands Entomological Society Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, Vol. 126: 78-84
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