Biological control of termites in tree plantations in Burkina Faso
Termites are a big problem in many parts of the world. They cause destruction to buildings, structures and agricultural crops for hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Termites belong to the order Ispotera and are the most damaging of the wood feeding insects. Termites have the ability to break down cellulose, which is a major component of wood. Termites attack the roots of trees such as Parkia biglobosa seedlings and smaller trees. The tree has traditionally been used for food and medicine in West Africa. Seeds of P. biglobosa are an important source of protein and the seeds can be fermented into condiments, which have been a part of the culinary tradition for centuries. Fruits of native trees are very important both as a dietary supplement and as a source of income and food security for the rural people in Burkina Faso. This study was done in a P. biglobosa plantation with the purpose of improving tree-planting success by evaluating four treatments for controlling termites in the plantation. The four treatments consisted of sugar for attracting ants, Carapa procera oil with insects repellent and termiticidal properties, leaves and fruits of Azadirachta indica (neem) with insecticide properties and a control. Wood sticks were put into the ground next to the tree as means for visual estimation of the termite activity in the plantation. Eighty trees were chosen for the study. The data showed a very high variation in the number of termites in each treatment and no clear trend was seen over the course of the study in relation to the number of termites. No significant effects of the treatments were seen on the number of termites or on the growth of the trees. Furthermore, these results did not show that termites were a pest in the plantation during the rainy season (August-November) of 2015.
Successful studies on the control of termites are sparse in the literature and it has been hard to find useful and comparable studies. It is clear from this study that control of termites is a hard and very complex task and new approaches and methods are needed. Future perspectives could benefit from a combination of cultural and scientific knowledge.