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Effects of Mulches on Foraging Behaviour of Microtermes Obesi and Odontotermes Spp. in India

  • C. S. Gold (a1), J. A. Wightman (a1) and M. P. Pimbert (a1)


Termites are important agricultural pests in the semi-arid tropics. Conventional methods of control have relied on persistent organochloride insecticides with accompanying health and environmental problems. In contrast, cultural control methods provide untested, but environmentally sound options to farmers. This study reports results from three experiments on the use of mulches to reduce Microtermes obesi and Odontotermes spp. damage with relevance to groundnut production in India.

Termites scarification of groundnut was 80–90% lower for pods dried in neem cake or Ipomoea fistulosa mulches than for pods dried directly on the soil. Similarly, subterranean attack by termites on bamboo baits was 20–40% lower in mulched plots than in controls. However, mulches were ineffective in protecting bullock manure from removal by termites.

Successful use of mulches in termite control may be related to food source concentration. Termite location of concentrated food sources, such as bullock manure, was followed by recruitment of workers and construction of protected runways. In contrast, termites foraging on limited food sources, such as groundnut pods, did not construct runways and had greater exposure to mulches.

Dans les zones tropicales semi-arides, les termites sont des ravageurs importants des cultures. Les méthodes de lutte traditionnelles sont fondées sur l'utilisation répétée d'insecticides organochlorés nuisibles pour la santé et l'environnement. En revanche, les méthodes de lutte culturales non encore expérimentées, constituent une solution écologiquement saine pour les agriculteurs. Ce document rapporte les résultats de trois expériences portant sur l'utilisation de paillis pour réduire l'ampleur des dégâts occasionnés par Microtermes obesi et Odontotermes spp. dans le cadre de la production d'arachide en Inde.

Le taux de scarification de l'arachide par les termites était de 80–90% inférieur pour les gousses séchées dans des tourteaux de neem ou des paillis de Ipomoea fistulosa par rapport aux gousses séchées à même le sol. De même, les attaques souterraines de termites sur les appâts en bambou étaient inférieures de 20 à 40% dans les parcelles recouvertes de paillis par rapport aux parcelles témoins. Toutefois, le paillis s'est révélé inefficace pour éviter que le fumier de boeufs ne soit emporté par les termites.

L'efficacité de l'utilisation de paillis pour lutter contre les termites peut s'expliquer par la concentration de la source d'alimentation. En effet, le repérage par les termites de sources d'alimentation concentrées, telles que le fumier, donnait Heur au recrutement d'ouvrières et à la construction de voies de passage protégées. En revanche, les termites n'ayant trouvé que des sources alimentaires limitées, telles que les gousses d'arachide, ne construisaient par de voies de passage et se trouvaient de ce fait beaucoup plus exposés aux paillis.


Corresponding author

*Current address: IITA Biological Control Programme, B. P. 08–0932, Cotonou, Republique du Benin.


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Effects of Mulches on Foraging Behaviour of Microtermes Obesi and Odontotermes Spp. in India

  • C. S. Gold (a1), J. A. Wightman (a1) and M. P. Pimbert (a1)


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