UF/IFAS scientist Nan-Yao Su recognized a problem that was plaguing millions of homes each year – subterranean termite infestation. The traditional control method was to apply termiticide around a structure’s perimeter, causing the pests to die upon contact. However, the efficacy of this liquid treatment diminishes over time, reducing its effectiveness.

Su determined that there must be a more efficient, environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional liquid barrier treatments that are subject to loss of efficacy due to weather and other environmental factors. He began his research by studying the foraging patterns of termites, soon realizing that even after a termite finds a food source, it has an innate desire to bring its colony mates and continue searching for more food.

What if he could exploit this instinct by treating the food source that would affect only the termites? What if the termite could take the treated food source back to the colony before it acted as a termiticide? What if this process could lead to the elimination of the queen, the colony, and the possibility of future offspring?

Questions like these led to the technology behind Dow Chemical Company’s Sentricon® colony elimination system, commercially released in 1995, the first commercial baiting product for subterranean termites. Because termites forage for new food, it guarantees that the pests will find the Sentricon® bait stations. These stations contain small amounts of a patented active slow-acting ingredient that prevents the insect from molting, a necessary step in its life cycle.

Sentricon® is non-intrusive and extremely effective. It is trusted to protect national landmarks such as The White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, The Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall and The Alamo.

Since the introduction of the Sentricon® system in 1995, Su has become a world-renowned termite expert. He is a distinguished professor in our Entomology and Nematology department, conducts research at the Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, and is inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

The most important purpose of UF/IFAS research is to discover science-based solutions that make tangible, positive impacts on the lives of people worldwide. Click here to view more of our Unit's greatest accomplishments.