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Mushrooms May Be Used To Brutally Eradicate Termites

February 8th, 2018

Mushrooms May Be Used To Brutally Eradicate Termites

At the moment termites are a serious problem within the United States, and their populations are expected to grow in response to climate change. This is why scientists all over the world are constantly working to develop new forms of termite control. There have been many novel termite control ideas proposed in the past, but very few of these ideas have turned out successful. Despite the rich history of failures in the field of termite control, one research team feels confident that their recently developed termite control method will revolutionize the entire industry. The key to this new form of termite control is mushrooms.

Each year, termite damage costs more than one billion dollars in America. Although most of these damages are caused by eastern subterranean termites, experts tend to worry about Formosan termites the most. Formosan subterranean termites are invasive to America, and they are particularly concentrated in Louisiana. In New Orleans alone, the economic cost of Formosan termite damage exceeds three hundred million dollars per year. For the past several years, researchers with the Agricultural Research Service have been using the termite-rich conditions in New Orleans as a testing ground for their new termite control product.

Three researchers, Christopher A. Dunlap, Mark A. Jackson, and Maureen S. Wright, have developed a sort of foam that exposes termites to deadly spores. The deadly spores used to make this foam are known as Paecilomyces fumosoroseus. When termites make contact with the foam, the spores immediately deliver thread-like filaments into the bodies of invading termites. These fungal-filaments feed on termites from the inside of their bodies. The fungal-filaments quickly grow in response to this feeding. Eventually, the fungal-filaments grow large enough to burst out of a termite’s body. The New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board provided the research team with a fiber optic video camera so that this gruesome process could be viewed with greater detail. The three researchers have already applied for patents, but due to tight regulations in the insect pest control industry, it could be a while before this product is used by professionals.

Do you think that termites can either anticipate or experience pain sensations?

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