Susceptibility of Coconut Wood to Damage by Subterranean Termites (Isoptera: Mastotermitidae, Rhinotermitidae)

Brenton C. Peters, Henri Bailleres, Christopher John Fitzgerald

Abstract


Two field trials were conducted with untreated coconut wood (“cocowood”) of varying densities against the subterranean termites Coptotermes acinaciformis (Froggatt) and Mastotermes darwiniensis Froggatt in northern Queensland, Australia. Both trials ran for 16 weeks during the summer months. Cocowood densities ranged from 256 kg/m3 to 1003 kg/m3, and the test specimens were equally divided between the two termite trial sites. Termite pressure was high at both sites where mean mass losses in the Scots pine sapwood feeder specimens were: 100% for C. acinaciformis and 74.7% for M. darwiniensis. Termite species and cocowood density effects were significant. Container and position effects were not significant. Mastotermes darwiniensis fed more on the cocowood than did C. acinaciformis despite consuming less of the Scots pine than did C. acinaciformis. Overall the susceptibility of cocowood to C. acinaciformis and M. darwiniensis decreases with increasing density, but all densities (apart from a few at the high end of the density range) could be considered susceptible, particularly to M. darwiniensis. Some deviations from this general trend are discussed as well as implications for the utilisation of cocowood as a building resource.

Keywords


Coconut palm wood; Subterranean termite; Density; Natural durability; Field trial

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