The following article was reprinted from page 9 of the CTAHR 2000 Impact Report.

 

SUSTAINABILITY

"Fingerprinting"
Termite Families

he kids are eating you out of house and home, literally.
You want to know where they came from and how to send
them packing. But first, you need to know who and where their
parents are. Only then can you lure the family out and get rid of
them. The "kids" in this story are the termites nibbling on your
lanai supports--and to get rid of them, you must find their nest
and eliminate their parents and all their siblings. Both tasks should
Photo by Dr. Robert J. Woodrow
Photo: Robert J. Woodrow
be easier now thanks to research done by
CTAHR entomologists J. Kenneth Grace
and Claudia Husseneder. Using state-of-the-
art molecular genetics techniques, such as
DNA fingerprinting (techniques used to recog-
nize individuals and establish paternity in
humans), they can define the boundaries of a
termite colony and monitor the spread of
toxicants throughout the colony to be sure a
bait is working. If the pests should reappear after treatment, Grace
and Husseneder can determine if they are a new infestation or
remnants of the original colony. Working with Grace, commercial
exterminators will be able to use this information to select effective
baits and place them where they will do the most good. Termites
cause more than $100 million of structural damage annually in
Hawaii. The ongoing research by CTAHR entomologists will
help contain and perhaps reverse this economic drain.
Photo by Dr. Stephen Saul
Photo: Stephen Saul

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