Pest industry veteran Anthony Feez shares his account of witnessing the fipronil transfer effect of Fipforce Aqua for himself.

It was back in my farming days in the late 1990’s that I received my first introduction to the efficacy of fipronil. The pioneer of fipronil in Australia, Rhône Poulenc, was trialling the new molecule on my family’s farm at Eidsvold, Queensland, for the control of soil insects when applied as a seed dressing. The benefits of this new insecticide for grain sorghum production were immediately obvious through improved plant populations and resultant yield increases of up to 35% on previous cropping years. Though an Agricultural Science graduate, I had just commenced operations in Brisbane as a pest manager, and it was suggested to me that I should investigate the opportunity for this new insecticide for use in domestic pest control.

The horizontal transfer of insecticides among termites via social grooming and in particular fipronil is well reported in the published scientific field. Having nearly 15 years of working with fipronil, and now working with Murray Pest Control NT in the Northern Territory, I had never actually observed the transfer of fipronil in the field with termites.

In February of this year I observed the phenomena first hand while working on the treatment of mango trees against attack by Mastotermes darwiniensis in Katherine with Fipforce Aqua Termiticide from Sherwood Chemicals.

Mango trees with active Mastotermes darwiniensis were treated with Fipforce Aqua on the 19th February 2015 by direct injection into the termite’s workings. Prior to further treatment on the 23rd February 2015 to an adjoining row of mango trees (see main picture above) near those treated four days previously, I uncovered Mastotermes already showing obvious symptoms of fipronil toxicity.

Mastotermes darwiniensis showing symptoms of fipronil toxicity

The termites had clumped together in a mass, and there were many dead specimens. A number were moribund with obvious fipronil-induced immobility and accompanied twitching of appendages.

As someone who has been involved in termite management for many years with Dow, FMC and my own business, this was truly an amazing experience to witness first hand the ‘transfer effect’ as marketed by BASF under the brand Termidor in Australia.

The fact that the transfer effect was seen when using Fipforce Aqua reassured me that the product I was using was equivalent to Termidor.

Anthony Feez, Murray Pest Control, NT