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    Description

    Fire is an important part of forest ecosystems, as is the insect fauna. Changes in wood brought about
    by fire may alter the ability of termites to use the wood, interrupting the decay cycle of woody debris.
    The ability of termites to find, infest, and feed upon wood after it had been charred was evaluated in
    the laboratory and field. Eastern subterranean termites,
    Reticulitermes flavipes
    (Kollar) (Isoptera:
    Rhinotermitidae), fed on char from burned wood had significantly reduced numbers of protozoa
    compared to termites fed on pine shavings, but significantly more than starved termites. The ability
    of termites to find and infest wood was not affected by surface charring. In a laboratory choice test,
    there were no significant differences in the onset of feeding by termites between charred and
    non-charred wood boards. Likewise in the field, no differences were observed in the time to initial
    attack by termites on charred and non-charred wood boards or bolts. Because termites will likely
    survive fires of low to moderate intensity, in most cases, there should be no disruption of the termite
    contribution to forest nutrient and carbon cycles.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Peterson, C.J.; Gerard, P.D.; Wagner, T.L. 2007. Charring does not affect wood infestation by subterranean termites. The Netherlands Entomological Society Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, Vol. 126: 78-84

    Keywords

    char, protozoa, fire, wood selection, Reticulitermes flavipes, Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae

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