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Light attraction and subsequent colonization behaviors of alates and dealates of the West Indian drywood termite

Laboratory studies were conducted during the 2007 and 2008 dispersal seasons of the West Indian drywood termite Cryptotermes brevis (Walker), a serious urban pest of wooden structures. Attraction to light and subsequent colonization of this species were studied by observing the response of alates to lit and dark chambers. Several intensities of light were tested to determine if light intensity had a role in the alates’ attraction to light and subsequent colonization. A bioassay was conducted with semi-shaded wood blocks to quantify negative phototaxis for the dealates. We found that the alates of C. brevis preferred flying into lit areas for colonization, and that the number of colonizations was highest in the high light intensity treatments. Negative phototaxis of the dealates was observed because these preferred to colonize in the dark habitat treatments. This information is important when deciding what control methods may be used to prevent C. brevis from colonizing wood structures. Traps with a high intensity light to attract C. brevis alates and to prevent infestation may be a way to monitor and control this urban pest.