Several rare and common monosaccharides were screened for toxic effects on the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, with the aim of identifying environmentally friendly termiticides. myo-inositol and phytic acid, which are nontoxic to mammals, were identified as potential termite control compounds. Feeding bioassays with termite workers, where both compounds were supplied on filter paper in concentrations from 160.2 to 1,281.7 µg/ mm3, showed concentration-dependent toxicity within 2 wk. Interestingly myo-inositol was nontoxic when administered to termites in agar (40 mg/ml) in the absence of a cellulosic food source, an unexplained phenomenon. In addition, decreased populations of termite hindgut protozoa were observed upon feeding on myo-inositol but not phytate-spiked filter paper. Radiotracer feeding studies using myo-nositol[2-3H] with worker termites showed no metabolism after ingestion over a 2-d feeding period, ruling out metabolites responsible for the selective toxicity.
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Vol. 107 • No. 5