Submitted to: Insectes Sociaux
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2009
Publication Date: 4/28/2009
Citation: Cornelius, M.L., Osbrink, W.L. Bioassay design and length of time in the laboratory affect intercolonial interactions of the Formosan subterranean termite (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae). Insectes Sociaux (56): 203-211. Interpretive Summary: Aggressive behavior among Formosan subterranean termite colonies is highly variable. This study examined the effect of diet, experimental design, and length of time in the laboratory on aggression among Formosan subterranean termite colonies from City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. There was no correlation between the level of aggressive behavior and the laboratory diet of the termites. The high degree of variability in aggressive behavior exhibited by small, isolated groups of termites and the rapid loss of aggression in the laboratory are confounding factors that make it extremely difficult to identify cues used in kin recognition under laboratory conditions. Nevertheless, changes in aggressive behavior by individuals from the same field collections kept under different laboratory conditions can provide information on cues that induce aggressive behavior by subterranean termites towards non-nestmates. Increasing our understanding of interactions among Formosan subterranean termite colonies will improve our ability to design more effective termite control strategies.
Technical Abstract: This study examined the effect of diet, experimental design, and length of time in the laboratory on intercolonial aggression among Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, colonies. There was no correlation between the level of aggressive behavior and the laboratory diet of the termites. Bioassays designed to determine the effects of diet on intercolonial aggression by maintaining groups of termites on different diets in the laboratory were confounded by the loss of aggression in termites kept in the laboratory. In three colony pairs where the level of aggression was measured every 7 d, aggressive behavior disappeared more rapidly in Petri dish tests than in y-tube tests in two of the three colony pairs, and simultaneously in the third colony pair.