The dread Formosan supertermite is munching its way through the wooden structures of Florida and other Sunbelt states. But the ravenous creature may have met its match in another native Formosan--Nan-Yao Su, an entomologist at the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) research center of the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences. Su has developed a slow-acting poison that, when mixed into bait, inhibits the production of chitin, a substance that termites need to form shells. It also works on native varieties of subterranean termites, which are the biggest problem in areas not infested by the Formosan termite.
Su's work has been supported by DowElanco, a joint venture of Eli Lilly & Co. and Dow Chemical Co. DowElanco has exclusive rights to use the poison and is testing it in different soils and climates around the country. The company has asked the Environmental Protection Agency for approval of the substance and aims to bring it to market in 1995.