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Feeding Preferences of Microcerotermes championi (Snyder) for Different Wooden Blocks Dried at Different Temperatures under Forced and Choice Feeding Conditions in Laboratory and Field.

Byline: Ayesha Aihetasham and Sumbal Iqbal

Abstract

Microcerotermes championi (Snyder) was exposed to eight commercial wood species for studying the drying effect of temperature on natural resistance of wood and feeding preferences of M. championi under forced and choice conditions in the laboratory and the field. Wooden blocks of Cedrus deodara, Tectona grandis, Acacia arabica, Morus alba, Ficus religiosa, Melia azederach, Mangifera indica, Azadirachta indica were dried at 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80oC. It was observed that wood consumption was proportional to the degree of drying temperature, increase in drying temperature would increase consumption percentage. The feeding propensity of M. championi was Acacia arabica greater than Ficus religiosa greater than Azadirachta indica greater than Morus alba greater than Melia azederach greater than Mangifera indica greater than Cedrus deodara greater than Tectona grandis.

Key words: Feeding preferences, Microcerotermes championi, drying temperature effect, commercial wood species.

INTRODUCTION

When the natural habitat of termites is altered by humans only then they become pest (Pearce, 1997). Damage to the wooden structures and other cellulosic materials by termites has been estimated to exceed $ 3 billion annually worldwide (Su and Scheffrahn, 1990). The termite species are different in different ecological zones of Pakistan and may have different feeding preferences. For example, Anacanthotermes vagans does maximum damage to woodwork in buildings in Chaman, district Quetta, but is absent from the Punjab, where Coptotermes heimi, Microcerotermes unicolar, Odontotermes obesus and Heterotermes indicola play havoc (Akhtar, 1983).

In South-East Asia, termite attack is more commonly known to occur on older trees, and the termites responsible are C. curvignathus (Cowie et al., 1989; Tho and Kirton, 1992; Kirton and Wong, 2001; Kirton and Cheng, 2007) and M. dubius (Tho, 1982; Chey, 1996; Kirton and Cheng, 2007), which have more specialized abilities to kill trees.

With the rising cost of repairs and replacements for the timber structures, a sound knowledge of the natural resistance of the native timbers and feeding preferences of native species of termite is essential (Aihetasham, 2008). Several investigators have made their contributions regarding feeding preferences of termites (Howick, 1975; Amburgy and Beal, 1977; Ruyooka, 1978; Akhtar and Ali, 1979; Afzal, 1981; Roonwal, 1982; Lenz, 1982; Akhtar and Raja, 1985; Waller, 1988, Delaplane and Lafage, 1989; Waller et al., 1990; Akhtar and Kausar, 1991; Wilkins, 1992; Grace and Yamamoto, 1994; Bustamante and Martius, 1998; Cornelius and Osbrink, 2001; Ripa et al., 2002; 2003; Cornelius et al., 2004; Saran and Rust, 2005; Arango et al., 2006; Katsumata et al., 2007; Manzoor et al., 2009).

The factors affecting wood consumption by termites are numerous and highly interrelated. It has been widely accepted that wood species palatability is one of the influential parameters of termite wood consumption (Rasib, 2005, 2008). High temperature treatment could increase the preference of termites to treated woods as the strength of wood decreases with the increase in temperature and it becomes more vulnerable to termite attack (Aihetasham, 2008).

Based on the importance of drying temperature on timber resistance to termite, the present study was undertaken to investigate the feeding preference of M. championi to eight different commercial woods dried at different temperatures under forced and choice feeding conditions in the laboratory and the field.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Termite collection

M. championi termite colonies were collected from the base of Saccharum munja from Wagha village.

Soil

The soil was taken from the garden area of Zoology Department, sieved and then oven dried for 24 hours at 70oC.

Wooden species collection and preparation

Eight different trees viz., Cedrus deodara, Acacia arabica, Tectona grandis, Mangifera indica, Morus alba, Azadirachta indica, Ficus religiosa and Melia azederach were selected to collect wood for observation of feeding effects of M. championi. Sixty blocks measuring 4.2x2.5x1.1 cm of each type of wooden species were cut, polished with sand paper and oven dried for 48 h at 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80oC. The blocks were weighed after drying.

Laboratory feeding

Forced feeding

Each type of dried wooden block was placed in a glass Petri plate (9.8 cm diameter and 2 cm high) and 50 worker termites were added and observed for two weeks. The wooden block was kept moist and the whole experiment was held at constant 26oC temperature. Three replicates of each wooden block were used. After 14 days the blocks were dried at the same temperature at which they were dried before exposure to termites, weighed and the amount of wood consumed calculated. The number of termites survived was also recorded. At the end, data was statistically analyzed.

Choice feeding

Two different wooden species were offered to the workers of M. championi. Combinations of wooden species were C. deodara / M. alba, A. arabica / T. grandis, F. religiosa / M. azederach and M. indica / A. indica. The wood blocks were placed side by side with an alternate block combination in a same Petri plates. Fifty worker termites were released in each plate for 14 days. At the end of the test, the wooden blocks were dried at their respective temperature, and weighed to determine the amount of wood consumed. The data was statistically analyzed.

Field feeding

Forced feeding

Each type of dried wooden block was tied with copper wire and buried for two weeks in the selected area where the colonies of termites were present. Three replicates of each wooden block were used. After two weeks, wooden blocks were removed from the field and re-weighed. At the end of the test, data of mean wood consumed were statistically analyzed.

Choice feeding

Two different wooden species were offered to the termite workers. Combinations of wooden species were the same as described above for laboratory feeding (choice feeding). Rest of the methodology was same as of described for the forced feeding field test.

Data analysis

Data for wood consumption, percent wood consumption and percent survival were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) and mean values significantly different at 5 percent level were separated by Duncan's Multiple Range test (SPSS version 13).

RESULTS

Laboratory forced feeding

Table I shows wood consumption in milligrams and percent wood consumption, whereas Table II shows percent survival of termites confined to different wooden blocks dried at different temperatures, under forced feeding laboratory experiments. Maximum wood consumption was observed on the wooden blocks of A. arabica dried at 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80degC. However minimum consumption was recorded on wooden blocks of T. grandis dried at different temperatures. Survival of termites also showed an increase with increase in temperature at which the blocks were dried.

Table I.- Amount of wood consumed (mg) by M. championi (Snyder) in 14 days in no choice laboratory and field experiments. Figure in parenthesis indicate consumption.

Wood###Laboratory experiments###Field experiments

blocks###40degC###50degC###60degC###70degC###80degC###40degC###50degC###60degC###70degC###80degC

used

Acacia###1393.33+-###1593.33+-###1813.33+-###1943.33+-###2636.66+-###1063.33+-###2035.00+-###2672.00+-###2809.33+-###3242.33+-

arabica###96.09b###368.28b###136.13b###527.00b###208.40a###54.84d###35.00c###218.00b###89.50b###265.39a

###(16.22%)###(16.47%)###(18.73%)###(19.85%)###(22.96%)###(10.27%)###(20.48%)###(29.50%)###(32.42%)###(32.51%)

Ficus###840.00+-###1033.33+-###1083.33+-###1590.00+-###2370.00+-###756.66+-###1856.66+-###2350.00+-###2776.66+-###2853.33

religiosa###557.58b###105.98b###162.89b###494.26b###470.85a###231.58d###115.90c###95.39b###187.70a###+-23.09a

###(8.75%)###(10.63%)###(11.40%)###(15.53%)###(21.82%)###(8,06%)###(18.02%)###(21.19%)###(25.41%)###(26.30%)

Azadirachta###683.33+-###1026.66+-###1096.66+-###1763.33+-###2303.33+-###680.00+-###1850.00+-###2246.66+-###2523.33+-###2786.66

indica###166.53d###41.63c###15.27c###146.40b###153.73a###280.00d###52.91c###321.29bc###377.53ab###+-130.51a

###(6.48%)###(9.16%)###(10.56%)###(15.07%)###(18.86%)###(6.60%)###(16.38%)###(17.46%)###(21.63%)###(23.19%)

Morus alba###533.33+-###1026.66+-###1040.00+-###1616.66+-###2300.00+-###660.00+-###1693.33+-###2136.66+-###2335.00+-###2403.33

###37.85d###140.11c###45.82c###565.89b###79.37a###86.60d###150.11c###57.73b###125.00ab###+-174.73a

###(4.95%)###(8.58%)###(8.68%)###(12.77%)###(18.30%)###(6.10%)###(15.74%)###(18.77%)###(21.99%)###(19.95%)

Melia###480.00+-###646.66+-###896.66+-###1116.66+-###1916.66+-###560.00+-###1393.33+-###1566.66+-###1673.33+-###1883.33

azederach###26.45b###180.09b###604.34b###620.67b###240.06a###268.51b###180.36a###283.78a###271.35a###+-350.04a

###(5.50%)###(7.64%)###(10.26%)###(11.78%)###(18.85%)###(6.07%)###(14.44%)###(17.38%)###(17.47%)###(19.44%)

Mangijera###490.00+-###590.00+-###880.00+-###1110.00+-###1983.33+-###540.00+-###1180.00+-###1510.00+-###1660.00+-###1750.00

indiat###52.91c###173.49c###191.57b###157.16b###55.07a###79.37d###34.64c###86.60b###0.00a###+-51.96a

###(4.49%)###(5.29%)###(7.69%)###(9.64%)###(15.59%)###(4.80%)###(10.23%)###(14.62%)###(16.45%)###(17.00%)

Cedrus###346.66+-###483.33+-###500.00+-###1083.33+-###1300.00+-###170.00+-###673.33+-###843.33+-###1483.33+-###1546.66

deodara###5.77b###23.09b###266.27b###135.76a###111.35a###17.32 c###120.55b###259.67b###11.54a###+-383.70a

###(4.31%)###(5.98%)###(6.55%)###(12.29%)###(15.51%)###(2.16%)###(8.12%)###(10.17%)###(16.74%)###(18.13%)

Tectona###123.33+-###356.66+-###498.00+-###1066.66+-###1163.33+-###140.00+-###620.00+-###650.00+-###1493.33+-###1582.33

grandis###6.11c###5.77b###10.81b###10.40a###7.63a###0.00b###268.46b###268.46b###317.54a###+-342.36a

###(1.30%)###(3.60%)###(5.57%)###(10.94%)###(11.13%)###(1.40%)###(6.84%)###(6.80%)###(15.62%)###(15.71%)

Three replicates (Mean+-SD). Values in rows having no common superscript are significantly different (Pc0.05) (Duncan's test).

M. championi consumed wood blocks dried at 40degC in the following preference order A. arabica greater than F. religoisa greater than A. indica greater than M. alba greater than M. indica greater than M. azaderach greater than C. deodara greater than T. grandis. Wooden blocks dried at 80degC were consumed with same preference.

Table II shows survival of termite workers on wood blocks dried at different temperatures. Generally survival of workers increased with the increase of temperature. None of workers survived T. grandis at 40degC. The survival on other wood blocks dried at 40degC was as follows in the ascending order: T. grandis less than C. deodara less than M. indica = M. azaderach less than M. alba = A. indica less than F. religiosa less than A. arabica. When wood blocks were dried at 80degC the above trend was T. grandis less than C. deodara less than M. indica less than M. azaderach less than M. alba less than A. indica = F. religiosa less than A. arabica, but the percent survival was much higher compared to that of 40degC. The percentage increase of survival at 80degC compared to that of 40degC was 150% for T. grandis, 244% for C. deodara, 187% for M. indica, 215% for M. azaderach, 301% for M. alba, 456% for A. indica, 257% for F. religiosa and 106% for A. arabica.

Table II.- Survival (%) of M. championi (Snyder) under no choice feeding laboratory trials on wooden blocks dried at different temperatures after 14 days exposure.

Wood species

###Survival (%)###at different temperature###

###40degC###50degC###60degC###70degC###80degC

A. Arabica###32.7###32.7###46.0###51.3###67.3

F. religiosa###18.7###28.0###44.0###48.0###66.7

A. indica###12.0###19.3###19.3###32.0###66.7

M. alba###12.0###16.7###18.7###26.7###36.0

M. azederach###9.3###16.7###17.3###17.3###29.3

M. indica###9.3###11.3###17.3###24.0###26.7

C. deodara###2.7###6.0###6.0###8.0###9.3

T. grandis###0.0###4.0###4.0###4.7###6.0

Laboratory choice feeding

The termite workers easily identified the palatable wood. At 40degC maximum wood consumption was observed in A. arabica and minimum consumption was observed in T. grandis (Table IV).

At 50, 60 and 70degC the impact of temperature on the wood consumption of A. arabica was significantly different and the least preferred wood T. grandis wood consumption was increased with the increased temperature treatment and the survival rate also vary (Table IV).

At 80degC the maximum preferred wood A. arabica was consumed much more by termites. It showed increase in temperature had profound impact on the wood resistance against M. championi.

Table III shows percent survival of termite workers in choice feeding laboratory trials on different combination of wooden blocks at different temperatures. At 40degC the percent survival in descending order was as follows: A. Arabica / T. grandis greater than F. religiosa / M. azaderach greater than M. India / A. indica greater than C. desdara / M. alba. At 80degC this order was mainly retained as such viz., 112%, 135%, 102% and 88%, respectively.

Table III.- Survival percentage of workers of M. championi (Snyder) under choice feeding laboratory trials on different combinations of wooden blocks dried at different temperatures after 14 days exposure.

Wood###Percent survival at

combination###40degC###50degC###60degC###70degC###80degC

CD / MA###31.3###32.0###44.7###44.7###58.7

AA/ TG###36.7###34.7###56.7###64.7###80.7

FR / MAZ###34.0###39.3###45.3###66.0###80.0

MI / AI###32.0###36.7###36.7###61.3###64.7

AA,A.arabica; AI, A. indica; CD, C. deodara; FR, F. religiosa; MA, M. alba; MI, M. indica; TG, T. grandis ; MAZ, M. azederach

Field forced feeding

Field studies on wood consumption rate of eight wooden species by termites confirmed the feeding from laboratory evaluation. At 40degC the maximum wood consumption was observed at wooden blocks of A. arabica. The minimum consumption was observed on wooden blocks of T. grandis, its consumption rate was 123.33 mg (Table I).

Maximum consumption was observed at 80degC of A. arabica by termites was 2636.66 mg and the least preferred wood was T. grandis and its consumption rate was 1163.33 mg at 80degC (Table I).

Field choice feeding

In choice feeding field trials two different wooden blocks were given to the termites. At 40degC the maximum wood consumption was observed on the wooden blocks of A. arabica and minimum consumption was on T. grandis (Table IV). At 50degC the maximum consumption was also observed on A. arabica and minimum consumption was on T. grandis.

At 60degC the impact of temperature on wood consumption on A. arabica was significant. At 70degC the maximum wood consumption was on the combination of A. arabica and T. grandis that showed non-significant difference.

Similarly at 80degC the most preferred wood combination was A. arabica and T. grandis. It means increased temperature had significantly decreased the resistance of wood to termite attack.

DISCUSSION

Wood feeding preferences and resistance will vary with the hardness, lignin content or chemical constitution of the wood. The presence of organic chemicals, e.g. Phenol, quinones, terpenoids, and high concentration of lignins may also affect the areas where feeding takes place. The pH of wood content might also be important. Sapwood, which has more starch and sugar, is generally preferred to heartwood. Many of the indigenous trees are therefore more resistant to termite attack and have developed chemical defenses to protect themselves. These chemical defenses may be present to a greater level in immature trees and crops, making these even less susceptible. The chemical concentrations in trees can vary from the outside to the inside. Older trees may develop cracks in the bark, and the resistant chemicals may not reside near the outer layers of the tree potentially allowing termite attack to occur. (Pearce, 1997).

The preference of termites to a particular wood species could be altered by the wood combination offered to them (Smythe and Carter, 1970a; Morales-Ramos and Rojas, 2001). The choice feeding test was a more appropriate method to be used in determining termite wood preference than no choice test (forced-feeding) because in the later test method, termites were forced to feed on whatever resourse was available for survivorship (Smythe and Carter, 1970b). The results of present study were congruent with above findings as the workers of M. championi easily identified the palatable wood than the distasteful one when offered in choice feeding experiments. In the laboratory trials more termites were observed feeding on palatable wood. The results obtained in the field were in accordance with the laboratory studies.

The increased temperature significantly effected the consumption of non platable otherwise least attractive wooden blocks of T. grandis. In the field choice feeding trials, the consumption of T. grandis increased with the increase in temperature which resulted in decreased wood resistance. Similar drying temperature effect on feeding preferences of Heterotermes indicola (Wasmann) was studied by Aihetasham (2008). Ten different species of wood for their natural resistance were tested and feeding preferences of H. indicola (Wasmann) under the no choice and choice laboratory and field trials was revealed. The impact of drying temperature (60degC, 70degC, 80degC, 90degC and 100degC) was also studied. Maximum feeding was observed on Populus euramericana and minimum on Cedrus deodara and Dalbergia sisso.

Based on the feeding propensity the woods arranged in decending order of preference were Populus euramericana greater than Mangifera indica greater than Pinus roxburghii greater than Acacia arabica greater than Dalbergia sissoo greater than Cedrus deodara. Natural resistance and feeding preferences of two termite species, Coptotermes heimi and Microcerotermes championi, for ten species of woods commonly used in wood work and furniture in Pakistan were tested by Manzoor et al. (2009) in the laboratory as well as in the field. Both choice and no-choice laboratory and field experiments were conducted to test the natural resistance of timbers commonly used in Pakistan. For M. championi, in no-choice laboratory and field tests, Abies pindrow was found to be most resistant and Populus euramericana was least resistant. In choice feeding tests, both in the laboratory and field, M. championi were offered a combination of two woods, but M. championi showed the same feeding preference as in no-choice feeding tests. For C. heimi, the feeding preferences and wood

Table IV.- Consumption of wood in mg (Mean+-SD) by M. championi (Snyder) in choice feeding experiments under laboratory and field conditions. The wood combinations offered were C. deodara/M. alba (CD/MA), A. arabica/T. grandis (AA/TG), F. religiosa/M. azederach (FR/MA), M. indica/A. indica (MI/AI) dried at different temperatures.

Temperature###Wood###Laboratory conditions###Field conditions

(degC)###combination###Wood 1 (n=3)###Wood 2 (n=3)###Probabilityb###Wood 1 (n=3)###Wood 2 (n=3)###Probabilityb###

40###CD / MA###393.33+-83.86###683.33+-94.51###0.16###180.00+-30.00###993.33+-309.89###0.044

###AA/ TG###829.00+-83.14###330.00+-34.64###0.001###1320.00+-127.67###160.00+-10.00###0.000

###FR/MAZ###713.33+-116.76###480.00+-60.00###0.37###1036.66+-130.51###836.66+-848.18###0.528

###MI / AI###456.66+-49.32###683.33+-25.16###0.002###826.66+-159.47###930.00+-101.48###0.397

50###CD / MA###426.66+-65.06###956.66+-61.10###0.001###726.66+-243.78###1246.66+-195.02###0.001

###AA/ TG###1536.66+-120.55###386.66+-80.82###0.003###1486.66+-370.04###613.33+-112.39###0.002

###FR/MAZ###1066.66+-55.07###773.33+-179.53###0.653###1510.00+-268.51###1233.33+-180.09###0.200

###MI / AI###756.66+-41.63###1023.33+-30.55###0.00###1140.00+-138.56###1430.00+-17.32###0.021

60###CD / MA###533.33+-207.44###1126.66+-160.41###0.002###567.33+-447.30###1493.33+-353.60###0.023

###AA/ TG###1740.00+-62.44###513.33+-106.92###0.016###2363.33+-160.72###846.66+-25.16###0.003

###FR/MAZ###1313.33+-98.65###996.66+-65.06###0.021###2156.66+-128.58###1380.00+-105.83###0.024

###MI / AI###970.00+-52.91###1290.00+-170.00###0.001###1326.66+-201.08###1873.33+-194.25###0.002

70###CD / MA###646.66+-145.71###1216.66+-215.95###0.604###1206.66+-110.15###2030.00+-36.05###0.000

###AA/ TG###1750.00+-45.82###763.33+-184.48###0.004###2833.33+-168.62###1103.33+-132.03###0.111

###FR/MAZ###1603.33+-66.58###1076.66+-73.71###0.010###2783.33+-30.55###1786.66+-87.36###0.001

###MI / AI###1046.66+-77.67###1486.66+-72.34###0.00###1626.66+-257.16###2086.66+-32.14###0.004

80###CD / MA###966.66+-41.63###1968.66+-153.07###0.00###1713.33+-210.79###2456.66+-315.64###0.006

###AA/ TG###2526.66+-380.04###920.00+-70.00###0.221###3443.33+-245.42###1523.33+-342.39###0.390

###FR/MAZ###2163.33+-200.33###1803.33+-152.75###0.001###2996.66+-30.55###1983.33+-95.03###0.001

###MI / AI###1723.33+-141.89###2020.00+-81.85###0.00###1973.33+-221.88###2733.33+-197.56###0.00

Each wooden block was paired with a wooden block of other species (wood-1/wood-2) in Petri plate containing 50 termites.

bDifference in mass loss for each pair of wooden block indicated by =0.05, =0.01; =0.001 are significantly different (Paired comparison t-test).

consumption rate was different from that of M. championi. Tectona grandis was found to be least preferred for C. heimi and P. euramericana was the most preferred. When wood consumption rate of P. euramericana was compared, C. heimi consumed more P. euramericana than M. championi. The impact of drying temperature (60, 70, 80, 90 and 100degC) on wood specimens were also studied and it was seen that the amount of wood consumed increased with the increase in temperature. At the end of the experiment, for M. championi, the wood specimens were arranged in the following descending order of preference: Populus euramericana greater than Azadirachta indica greater than Cedrus deodara greater than Pinus roxburghii greater than Morus alba greater than Tectona grandis greater than Mangifera indica greater than Acacia arabica greater than Thuja occidentalis greater than Abies pindrow.

The ranking of the resistance of the ten woods against C. heimi (Wasmann) were Populus euramericana greater than Mangifera indica greater than Abies pindrow greater than Pinus wallichiana greater than Morus alba greater than Dalbergia sissoo greater than Acacia nilotica greater than Azadirachta indica greater than Cedrus deodara greater than Tectona grandis. Field studies on wood consumption rate of 10 wood species by two termite species, C. heimi and M. championi, confirmed the findings from laboratory evaluation of the present study.

Present study also indicated that increase in drying temperature (40, 50, 60, 70 and 80degC) decreased the resistance of eight different commercial wooden species. The most palatable wooden species for M. championi was A. arabica whereas the most deterent wooden species was T. grandis. The feeding propensity of M. championi (Snyder) was Acacia arabica greater than Ficus religiosa greater than Azadirachta indica greater than Morus alba greater than Melia azederach greater than Mangifera indica) greater than Cedrus deodara greater than Tectona grandis.

The food preference of termites is the base for developing baiting technology. Morales-Ramos and Rojas (2003) used the chemical composition of the most preferred wood species by the Formosan subterranean termite, C. formosanus (Shiraki), as basis for the development of a nutritionally based bait matrix against subterranean termites. Nagee et al. (2004) reported that by determining the wood preference of the Malaysian subterranean termite species, it would be possible to find a suitable wood species that can be used as part of bait matrix against a wide spectrum of termite pest species. Present findings will be valuable to develop baiting technology for termite control in Pakistan.

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Department of Zoology, University of the Punjab, Quaid-e-Azam Campus, Lahore-54590, Pakistan, Corresponding author: misswaqar@yahoo.com
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Author:Aihetasham, Ayesha; Iqbal, Sumbal
Publication:Pakistan Journal of Zoology
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