Chemical constituents of tropical woods and resistance to the invasive drywood termite Cryptotermes brevis
Published: 01-01-2015 In Publication
Wood‐feeding, nesting and production of secondary reproductives are key determinant traits of invasive species of drywood termites, and the West Indian drywood termite Cryptotermes brevis (Walker) is one of their major examples of worldwide concern as pest species of structural lumber, furniture and other wood products. The problem and losses by this species are determined by the prevailing wood characteristics. However, despite the current widespread occurrence of this species in the tropics, except Asia, tropical wood resistance and underlying mechanisms of resistance against this termite are scarcely known. Nonetheless, wood hardness and particularly wood density were recently recognized as important underlying traits for C. brevis resistance in tropical woods, but the chemical wood constituents were not considered. Here, we assessed tropical wood resistance to the invasive termite species C. brevis and tested the relevance of their holocellulose, lignin and (total) extractive contents preventing termite infestation. Free‐choice and no‐choice tests were carried out in parallel with wood chemical characterization. Resistance to the West Indian termite varied with wood species in terms of both colonization and consumption, but only under free‐choice testing because without choice, no significant difference was detected among wood species. Regardless, none of these traits were significantly correlated with wood resistance to C. brevis. Therefore, wood physical resistance, particularly wood density, seems the main recognized determinant of tropical wood resistance against the West Indian drywood termite. The pattern of termite movement on the surface of soft, mid and hard wood was also consistent with this conclusion.