Skip to main content Accessibility help

Evaluation of fipronil and imidacloprid as bait active ingredients against fungus-growing termites (Blattodea: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae)

  • N. Iqbal (a1) (a2) (a3) and T.A. Evans (a1) (a4)


Fungus-growing termites (Macrotermitinae) are important pests in tropical countries. They are difficult to control with existing baiting methods, as chitin synthesis inhibitors are not effectual as active ingredients. We tested two neurotoxins, fipronil and imidacloprid, as potential bait active ingredients against Macrotermes gilvus (Hagen) in Singapore. In laboratory bioassays, M. gilvus showed no preference for doses of 0–64 ppm fipronil, or for doses of 0–250 ppm imidacloprid, indicating no repellence. We tested each insecticide in toilet paper as a bait matrix in a field experiment. After 28 days, termites had eaten 5–13% of the fipronil treated toilet paper, abandoned bait and monitoring stations, contacted no new stations, and repaired poorly their experimentally damaged mounds. Termites ate no imidacloprid treated toilet paper, abandoned bait stations although contacted new stations, and repaired fully their damaged mounds. Termites ate 60–70% of the control toilet paper, remained in bait stations, and fully repaired damaged mounds. After 56 days, all five fipronil colonies were eliminated, whereas all of the imidacloprid and control colonies were healthy. The results suggest that fipronil could be an effective active ingredient in bait systems for fungus-growing termites in tropical countries.


Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence Phone: +92649260380 Fax: +92649260544 E-mail:


Hide All
Acda, M.N. (2004) Foraging population and territories of the tropical subterranean termite Macrotermes gilvus (Isoptera: Macrotermitinae). Sociobiology 43, 169177.
Alexander, S.P.H., Mathie, A. & Peters, J.A. (2011) Guide to receptors and channels (GRAC), 5th edition. British Journal of Pharmacology 164 (Suppl. 1), S1S324. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01649_1.x.
Appel, A.G. & Tanley, M.J. (2000) Laboratory and field performance of an imidacloprid gel bait against German cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 93, 112118.
Bagnères, A.G., Pichon, A., Hope, J., Davis, R.W. & Clément, J.L. (2009) Contact versus feeding intoxication by fipronil in Reticulitermes termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae): laboratory evaluation of toxicity, uptake, clearance, and transfer among individuals. Journal of Economic Entomology 102, 347356.
Bai, D., Lummis, S.C.R., Leicht, W., Breer, H. & Sattelle, D.B. (1991) Actions of imidacloprid and a related nitomethylene on cholinergenic receptors of an identified insect motor neurone. Pest Management Science 33, 197204.
Bortolotti, L., Montanari, R., Marcelino, J., Medrzycki, P., Maini, S. & Porrini, C. (2003) Effects of sub-lethal imidacloprid doses on the homing rate and foraging activity of honey bees. Bulletin of Insectology 56, 6367.
Boucias, D.G., Stokes, C., Storey, G. & Pendland, J.C. (1996) The effect of imidacloprid on the termite Reticulitermes flavipes and its interaction with the mycopathogen Beauveria bassiana . Pflanzenschutz-Nachrichten Bayer 49, 103144.
Brooks, M.D., Nentwig, G. & Gutsmann, V. (2009) Elimination of a Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) infestation using imidacloprid bait. International Pest Control 51, 240243.
Buczkowski, G. & Schal, C. (2001) Method of insecticide delivery affects horizontal transfer of fipronil in the German Cockroach (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 94, 680685.
Cole, L.M., Nicholson, R.A. & Casida, J.E. (1993) Action of phenyl pyrazole insecticides at the GABA-gated chloride channel. Pesticide Biochemistry Physiology 46, 4754.
Collins, H.L. & Callcott, A.M.A. (1998) Fipronil: an ultra-low-dose bait toxicant for control of Red Imported Fire Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Florida Entomologist 81, 407415.
Cross, R.K., Maistrello, L. & Henderson, G. (2002) Behavioral effects of fipronil and imidacloprid on Coptotermes formosanus. p. 486 in Jones, S.C., Zhai, J. & Robinson, W.H. (Eds) Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Urban Pests. Blacksburg, VA, USA, Pocahontas Press.
Daane, K.M., Cooper, M.L., Sime, K.R., Nelson, E.H., Battany, M.C. & Rust, M.K., Rust, (2008) Testing baits to control Argentine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in vineyards. Journal of Economic Entomology 101, 699709.
Dawes-Gromadzki, T.Z. & Spain, A. (2003) Seasonal patterns in the activity and species richness of surface-foraging termites (Isoptera) at paper baits in a tropical Australian savanna. Journal of Tropical Ecology 19, 449456.
Dhang, P. (2011) A preliminary study on elimination of colonies of the mound building termite Macrotermes gilvus (Hagen) using a chlorfluazuron termite bait in the Philippines. Insects 2, 486490.
Eggleton, P. (2000) Global patterns of termite diversity. pp. 2554 in Abe, T., Bignell, D.E. & Higashi, M. (Eds) Termites: Evolution, Sociality, Symbioses, Ecology. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publications.
Eggleton, P., Williams, P.H. & Gaston, K.J. (1994) Explaining global termite diversity: productivity or history? Biodiversity & Conservation 3, 318330.
Esenther, G.R. & Gray, D.E. (1968) Subterranean termite studies in southern Ontario. Canadian Entomologist 100, 827834.
Evans, T.A. (2006) Foraging and building in subterranean termites: task switchers or reserve labourers? Insectes Sociaux 53, 5664.
Evans, T.A. (2010) Rapid elimination of field colonies of subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) using bistrifluron solid bait pellets. Journal of Economic Entomology 103, 423432.
Evans, T.A. & Gleeson, P.V. (2006) The effect of bait design on bait consumption in termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research 96, 8590.
Evans, T.A. & Iqbal, N. (2015) Termite (order Blattodea, infraorder Isoptera) baiting 20 years after commercial release. Pest Management Science 71, 897906.
Evans, T.A., Dawes, T.Z., Ward, P.R. & Lo, N. (2011) Ants and termites increase crop yield in a dry climate. Nature Communication 2, 262. DOI:10.1038/ncomms1257.
Findlay, W.P.K. (1962) The Preservation of Timber. London, Adam & Charles Black Ltd.
Forschler, B.T. & Jenkins, T.M. (2000) Subterranean termites in the urban landscape: understanding their social structure is the key to successfully implementing population management using bait technology. Urban Ecosystem 4, 231251.
Gautam, B.K., Henderson, G. & Davis, R.W. (2012) Toxicity and horizontal transfer of 0.5% fipronil dust against Formosan subterranean termites. Journal of Economic Entomology 105, 17661772.
Gay, F.J., Greaves, T., Holdaway, F.G. & Wetherly, A.H. (1955) Standard Laboratory Colonies of Termites for Evaluating the Resistance of Timber, Timber Preservatives, and Other Materials to Termite Attack. Bulletin 277. Melbourne, Australia, CSIRO.
GEF (2005) Demonstration Project of Alternatives to Chlordane and Mirex for Termite Control in China. Guangdong Entomological Institute. Bejing, China, The World Bank.
Grace, J.K., Tome, C.H.M., Shelton, T.G., Ohsiro, R.J. & Yates, J.R. (1996) Baiting studies and considerations with Coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in Hawaii. Sociobiology 28, 511520.
Harris, W.V. (1971) Termites: Their Recognition and Control. 2nd edn. London, Longman Group Ltd.
Henderson, G. (2001) Practical considerations of the Formosan subterranean termite in Louisiana: a 50-year-old problem. Sociobiology 37, 281392.
Hickin, N.E. (1971) Termites: A World Problem. London, The Rentokil Library, Hutchinson & Co. Ltd.
Hu, X.P. (2011) Liquid termiticides: their role in subterranean termite management. pp. 114132 in Dhang, P. (Ed.) Urban Pest Management: An Environmental Perspective. UK, CABI.
Huang, Q.Y., Lei, C.L. & Xue, D. (2006) Field evaluation of a fipronil bait against subterranean termite Odontotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Termitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 99, 455461.
Iqbal, N. & Saeed, S. (2013) Toxicity of six new chemical insecticides against the termite, Microtermes mycophagus D. (Isoptera: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae). Pakistan Journal of Zoology 45, 709713.
Iqbal, N., Evans, T.A., Saeed, S. & Khan, H.A.I. (2016 a) Evaluation of fipronil baits against Microtermes mycophagus (Blattodea: Termitidae). Canadian Entomologist 148, 343352.
Iqbal, N., Wijdedsas, L.S. & Evans, T.A. (2016 b) Bait station preferences in two Macrotermes species. Journal of Pest Science. DOI:10.1007/s10340-016-0778-z.
Jmhasly, P. & Leuthold, R.H. (1999) Intraspecific colony recognition in the termites Macrotermes subhyalinus and Macrotermes bellicosus (Isoptera, Termitidae). Insectes Sociaux 46, 164170.
Kaakeh, W., Reid, B.L. & Bennett, G.W. (1997) Toxicity of fipronil to German and American cockroaches. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 84, 229237.
Keefer, T.C. (2010) Laboratory and field evaluation of imidacloprid against Reticulitermes flavipes (kollar) and Coptotermes formosanus shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) subterranean termites in Texas. MSc Thesis, Texas A & M University, USA.
Keefer, T.C., Puckett, R.T. & Gold, R.E. (2011) Effect of imidacloprid granules on subterranean termite populations (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology 57, 3550.
La Fage, J.P., Nutting, W.L. & Haverty, M.I. (1973) Desert subterranean termites: a method for studying foraging behaviour. Environmental Entomology 2, 954956.
Lee, C.C., Neoh, K.B. & Lee, C.Y. (2014) Colony size affects the efficacy of bait containing chlorfluazuron against the fungus-growing termite Macrotermes gilvus (Blattodea: Termitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 107, 21542162.
Lee, C.Y. (2014). Termites of Singapore: A Scientific Guide for Pest Management Professional. Singapore, Singapore Pest Management Association.
Lee, C.Y., Vongkaluang, C. & Lenz, M. (2007) Challenges to subterranean termite management of multi-genera faunas in Southeast Asia and Australia. Sociobiology 50, 213221.
Mao, L., Henderson, G. & Scherer, C.W. (2011) Toxicity of seven termiticides on the Formosan and eastern subterranean termites. Journal of Economic Entomology 104, 10021008.
Mullins, J.W. (1993) Imidacloprid: a new nitroguanidine insecticide. pp. 184198 in Duke, S.O., Menn, J.J. & Plimmer, J.R. (Eds) Pest Control With Enhanced Environmental Safety. ACS Symposium Series Vol. No. 524, Washington, DC, American Chemical Society.
Neoh, K.B. & Lee, C.Y. (2009) Developmental stages and castes of two sympatric subterranean termites Macrotermes gilvus and Macrotermes carbonarius (Blattodea: Termitidae). Annals of Entomological Society of America 102, 10911098.
Neoh, K.B., Jalaludin, N.A. & Lee, C.Y. (2011) Elimination of field-colonies of a mound-building termite Globitermes sulphureus (Isoptera: Termitidae) by bistrifluron bait. Journal of Economic Entomology 104, 607613.
Parman, V. & Vargo, E.L. (2010) Colony-level effects of imidacloprid in subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 103, 791798.
Paton, R. & Miller, L.R. (1980) Control of Mastotermes darwiniensis Froggatt (Isoptera: Mastrotermitidae) with mirex baits. Australian Forestry Research 10, 249258.
Peters, B.C. & Fitzgerald, C.J. (2003) Field evaluation of the bait toxicant chlorfluazuron in eliminating Coptotermes acinaciformis (Froggatt) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 96, 18281831.
Quarcoo, F.Y., Appel, A.G., & Hu, X. P. (2010) Effects of indoxacarb concentration and exposure time on onset of abnormal behaviors, morbundity, and death in Eastern Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 103, 762769.
Quarcoo, F.Y., Hu, X.P. & Appela, A.G. (2012) Effects of non-repellent termiticides on the tunneling and walking ability of the Eastern Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Pest Management Science 68, 13521359.
Roisin, Y. (2000) Diversity and evolution of caste patterns pp. 95119 in Abe, T., Bignell, D.E. & Higashi, M. (Eds) Termites: Evolution, Sociality, Symbioses, Ecology. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publications.
Rouland-Lefèvre, C. (2011) Termites as pests of agriculture. pp. 499517 in Bignell, D.E., Roisin, Y. & Lo, N. (Eds) Biology of Termites: A Modern Synthesis. Netherlands, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Saran, R.K. & Rust, M.K. (2007) Toxicity, uptake, and transfer efficiency of fipronil in western subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 100, 495508.
Scholz, G.H., Militz, P., Gascon-Garrido, M.S., Ibiza-Palacios, , & Oliver-Villanueva, J.V. (2010) Improved termite resistance of wood by wax impregnation. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 64, 688693.
Shelton, T.G. & Grace, J.K. (2003) Effects of exposure duration on transfer of nonrepellent termiticides among workers of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 96, 456460.
Simon-Delso, N., Amaral-Rogers, V., Belzunces, L.P., Bonmatin, J.M., Chagnon, M., Downs, C., Furlan, L., Gibbons, D.W., Giorio, C., Girolami, V., Goulson, D., Kreutzweiser, D.P., Krupke, C.H., Liess, M., Long, E., McField, M., Mineau, P., Mitchell, E.A.D., Morrissey, C.A., Noome, D.A., Pisa, L., Settele, J., Stark, J.D., Tapparo, A., Van Dyck, H., Van Praagh, J., Van der Sluijs, J.P., Whitehorn, P.R. & Wiemers, M. (2015) Systemic insecticides (neonicotinoids and fipronil): trends, uses, mode of action and metabolites. Environmental Science & Pollution Research 22, 534.
Sokal, R.R. & Rohlf, F.J. (1981) Biometry. 2nd edn. New York, WH Freeman and Co.
Spomer, N.A., Kamble, S.T., Warriner, R.A. & Davis, R.W. (2008) Influence of temperature on rate of uptake and subsequent horizontal transfer of fipronil by eastern subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 101, 902908.
Stringer, C.E. Jr., Lofgren, C.S. & Bartlett, F.J. (1964) Imported fire ant toxic bait studies: evaluation of toxicants. Journal of Economic Entomology 57, 941945.
Su, N.Y. (1994) Field evaluation of hexaflumuron bait for population suppression of subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 87, 389397.
Su, N.Y. & Scheffrahn, R.H. (2000) Termites as pests of buildings. pp. 437453 in Abe, T., Bignell, D.E. & Higashi, M. (Eds) Termites: Evolution, Sociality, Symbioses, Ecology. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publications.
SYSTAT v. 9.0 (1998) SPSS. Chicago, IL, SPSS, Inc.
Thorne, B.L. & Breisch, N.L. (2001) Effects of sublethal exposure to imidacloprid on subsequent behaviour of subterranean termite Reticulitermes virginicus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 94, 492498.
Thorne, B.L. & Forschler, B.L. (2000) Criteria for assessing efficacy of stand-alone termite bait treatments at structure. Sociobiology 36, 245255.
Tomalski, M. & Vargo, E.L. (2004) Chain reaction: studies shed light on mechanisms of transfer of a nonrepellent termiticide. Pest Control May, 5153.
Tomalski, M. & Vargo, E.L. (2005) Acquisition, transfer and metabolism of [14C] Imidacloprid among workers of the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). pp. 243249 in Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Urban Pests.
Verma, M., Sharma, S. & Prasad, R. (2009) Biological alternatives for termite control: a review. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 63, 959972.
Ware, G.W. 1999. An Introduction to Pesticides. 3rd edn. Fresno, CA, USA, Thomson Publications.
Webb, G.A. & McClintock, C. (2015) Elimination of the mound-building termite, Nasutitermes exitiosus (Isoptera: Termitidae) in South-Eastern Australia using bistrifluron bait. Journal of Economic Entomology 108, 27022710.
White, G.L. (1998) Control of the leaf-cutting ants Acromyrmex octospinosus (Reich.) and Atta cephalotes (L.) (Formicidae, Attini) with a bait of citrus meal and fipronil. International Journal of Pest Management 44, 115117.
Wood, T.G. (1991) Termites in Ethiopia: the environmental impact of their damage and resultant control measures. Ambio 20, 136138.
Yang, E.C., Chuang, Y.C., Chen, Y.L. & Chang, L.H. (2008) Abnormal foraging behaviour induced by sublethal dosage of imidacloprid in the honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 101, 17431748.


Evaluation of fipronil and imidacloprid as bait active ingredients against fungus-growing termites (Blattodea: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae)

  • N. Iqbal (a1) (a2) (a3) and T.A. Evans (a1) (a4)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed