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BAIT SWEETENER FOR TERMITES

Is it a good idea to add Gatorade to termite baits? We review the evidence here. 

 

Some pest managers swear that the addition of Gatorade – blue Gatorade to be precise – improves the ‘hit rate’ and palatability of termite baits. Certainly there is some evidence to suggest it can increase the rate of tunnelling in treated sand.1 But interestingly, the latest research indicates that erythritol, the sweetener used in many sugar free soft drinks, actually appears to cause mortality in termites.2

Erythritol is known to cause increased mortality when ingested by some insects. Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia investigated whether erythritol had potential as a novel termite bait active.

Workers of the eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes) were fed paper soaked in different concentrations of erythritol. The termite mortality measured at eight days after bait presentation was positively related with concentration, with the higher concentrations achieving over 80% mortality after eight days.

The termites consumed paper even with the highest level of erythritol and the researchers observed no avoidance behaviour in choice bioassays versus untreated paper, no matter the concentration of erythritol. As such, the researchers recommended that research should continue into the potential of erythritol as a termite bait active.

Whether or not erythritol sees the light of day as a commercial termite bait, these results highlight the risk of adding supplements with unknown properties to termite baits. Without testing, there is no way of knowing how even the most benign chemical may impact termite behaviour. It is for this reason that bait manufacturers generally test their bait products with distilled water, so not to add any impurities to the bait matrix. As always, there’s a reason to follow the label.

 

1 Cornelius, M.L and Osbrink, W.L.A (2008). Effect of bait supplements on the feeding and tunnelling behavior of the Formosan subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology 51(2):497-511.

2 Caponera, V. et al (2019). Erythritol Ingestion Causes Concentration-Dependent Mortality in Eastern Subterranean Termites (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae). Journal of Economic Entomology 113(1): 348–352.