A Novel Strain of Steinernema riobrave (Rhabditida: Steinernematidae) Possesses Superior Virulence to Subterranean Termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)


  • Hao Yu
  • Dawn H. Gouge
  • David I. Shapiro-Ilan


Subterranean termites are major global pests of wood structures and wood products. Among the most economically important subterranean termite species in the US are Heterotermes aureus, Reticulitermes flavipes, and Coptotermes formosanus. In prior studies, the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema riobrave strain 355, exhibited a high level of virulence to H. aureus compared with other nematode species. However, S. riobrave 355 was reported to be poorly or only moderately virulent to R. flavipes and C. formosanus, respectively. We hypothesized that other strains of S. riobrave may possess a high level of virulence to all three termite species. Under laboratory conditions we compared three novel strains of S. riobrave (3-8b, 7-12, and TP) with the 355 strain for virulence to H. aureus, R. flavipes, and C. formosanus workers. H. aureus was very susceptible to all the S. riobrave strains, and termites in all nematode treatments were dead after 4 d. The TP strain of S. riobrave caused greater mortality in R. flavipes and C. formosanus compared to the other nematode strains. Specifically, the TP strain caused 75% and 91% mortality in R. flavipes and C. formosanus, respectively, which was more than 300% and 70% higher than the mortality caused by other strains. Additional studies are warranted to determine the ability of S. riobrave (TP) to control the targeted termite species under field conditions.