The Invasive Conehead Termite IPM Working Group
Two populations of non-native, invasive conehead termites (Nasutitermes corniger) have been established in Broward County, Florida. Since conehead termites are a significant pest of agricultural crops and orchards, and structures in their native range, and have the potential to cause catastrophic impacts to natural resources in the U.S., the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is working towards eradicating this exotic pest before it becomes permanently established and spreads farther in Florida or to other vulnerable regions in the southern U.S..
Prior to this working group, effective, widespread, stakeholder-supported implementation of conehead termite IPM strategies did not exist due to limited resources and funds. Conehead containment, control, and eradication efforts could be substantially escalated once stakeholders are educated on the risk of expanding populations, informed about IPM strategies for addressing and minimizing risk of infestations, and encouraged to develop collaborations focusing current personnel and equipment resources to effectively address those risks. Stakeholder participation and best practice IPM inputs reduce long term resource investments in eradicating conehead termites from Florida.
This working group was established in the fall of 2017 to gather representatives from our different stakeholder groups – e.g. pest control industry, termite research and extension, federal, state and local natural resource managers, agriculture, and local government and businesses – to learn more about the conehead termite problem and brainstorm ways to best utilize combined resources to protect Florida and the southern U.S. from this threat.
Working Group Process
Two working group meetings and one field trip were held. The meetings focused on:
-educating members on conehead termites and their impacts,
-obtaining member feedback on how a conehead termite infestation would affect their constituents, and
-members providing recommendations on ways to address infestations.
The field trip was held at a heavily infested property and attendees saw firsthand how and what conehead termites infest, current IPM methodologies for addressing them, and how their biology makes them a formidable pest.
After the meetings and field trip, the document “Issues and Recommended Actions” was developed summarizing Working Group member recommendations for addressing the identified issues. This document, the list of Working Group members and their affiliations, and meeting agendas can be viewed in the linked final report.
Working Group Initial Outcomes
The Invasive Conehead Termite IPM Working Group is contributing significantly toward the eradication of conehead termites in the U.S. Since its kick off, many collaborations among members have developed. Outreach to identify new, undiscovered colonies has grown exponentially — Working Group members are posting about conehead termites on their social media accounts, are displaying outreach materials at their education events, and are training their field employees to scout for the termite. A Working Group member’s organization funded a site cleanup to improve access to survey for conehead termites at an infested property. A Train the Trainer program was developed to expand the network of information sharing. IPM protocols for rapid response to new infestations are being drafted for availability to other government-led eradication teams and the pest control industry. And the remainder of the Working Group recommendations are being implemented as time and resources become available.