Author(s): Lenz M, Kard B, Evans TA, Mauldin JK, Etheridge JL,
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Abstract A year-long field experiment showed that Reticulitermes flavipes attacked and used single stakes and wooden stake bundles differently in two habitats that varied in alternative forage. In both habitats, the number of termites present in single stakes and stake-bundles increased with stake resource size, and the number of larvae recorded from feeding sites was a close reflection of the number of workers attracted to a given food source. Over 12 mo, more single stakes and stake bundles were heavily attacked and abandoned in the pine woods compared with grassy clearings. Paradoxically, the number of termites present in single stakes and stake bundles was greater in the food-poor habitat (grassy clearings), yet the wood was less consumed compared with the food-rich habitat (pine woods). Use of stake bundles as nests and the slower rate of wood consumption in grassy clearings indicated that termites seemed to value food resources in relative terms, i.e., those termites with abundant alternative food resources consumed quickly and departed, whereas those lacking extra resources ate slowly and settled in. These field results confirm earlier laboratory results that showed that termites modified wood consumption rates dependent on the amount of food available to the colony as a whole. The appearance of mature (physogastric) reproductives (>> yr old) in stake bundles in both habitats further indicated that termites track resources and opportunistically shift colony activities and possibly territory boundaries depending on the nature of the resources and other environmental factors. Implications for managing termites with a baiting strategy are discussed.
This article was published in Environ Entomol
and referenced in Journal of Biodiversity, Bioprospecting and Development