Partial disturbance of resources foraged by Reticulitermes flavipes.


The introduction of termiticidal baits over 10 years ago has increased interest in the basic foraging behavior of pest termite species. Due to the amount of interference with foraged cellulose material (bait matrices, both treated and untreated) in bait stations as part of some control programs, the following study was initiated to examine the response of termites to very short term (1 wk) partial disturbances of a foraged resource. Does weekly interruption (disturbance) of 0, 25, 50, 75, or 100% of a foraged resource reduce feeding (or activity) by subterranean termites? Four pre-weighed cubes of southern yellow pine (Pinus spp. L.) in close proximity (1 cm) were provided to groups of Eastern subterranean termites [Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar)] as foraging choices in two different screw-top jar arena tests. The first study was done in single jars requiring termites to stay confined near the disturbed blocks, while a second study used three connected jars providing the termites with the ability to avoid the jar with the disturbed blocks altogether. Both studies used similar methods, differing only in arena design. In these studies, one, two, three, all or none of the blocks were picked up carefully and the number of termites on the moved block counted weekly. Data from both studies indicated that termites did not permanently leave disturbed blocks, and that between 50 and 75% of the blocks needed to be moved to reduce feeding on the disturbed blocks.

  • Citation: Shelton, T.G.; Gerard, P.D.; Wagner, T.L. 2009 Partial disturbance of resources foraged by Reticulitermes flavipes. Sociobiology Vol. 54 (3):973-989
  • Keywords: termites, Eastern subterranean termites, disturbance, behavior, foraging
  • Posted Date: March 24, 2010
  • Modified Date: April 7, 2010
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