"Exploratory Behaviour and Food Retrieval Habit of Amitermes Evuncifier Silvestri (Isoptera, Termitidae, Termitinae)"

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Malaka, O. L.
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University of Lagos
The study revealed that there was a quantitative recruitment in colonies of Amitermes evuncifer, whenever food was discovered by the scouting foragers. Discovered food stimulated the termites to accelerate their running speed, to and from the food source. Increased trial-laying activity, accelerated movement and carrying of food by the returning workers facilitated recruitment of other Confederates from their nest. These activities equally directed the recruited termites to the food source. Amitermes evuncifer was observed to regulate traffic in relation to the newly discovered food source. The results showed that there was rapid communication between the termites of food source within 3 - 4 minutes. It was further observed that trail to newly found food source did not become dominant over the trail to the already existing food source. The results showed clearly the effect of food on vital activities of termites. The results also showed how trails were established with and without any food source. The two stimulants for strong trail-laying by the termites were found to be: (1) a virgin (trial-less) surface, and (2) a discovered food source. Whenever a food source was discovered, the returning workers (from the food source to the nest) increased strong trail-laying (STL) activity more than the outgoing termites. Results obtained from this work has confirmed that there was no trail specificity (neither in artificial trail extracts nor in natural trails) between different colonies of Amitermes evuncifer. This, of course, means that in trail bioassays, test termites can be taken from any colony (of the same species). A method devised for extracting, preserving as well as carrying out tests with extracted natural trail was discussed. In this study, trail activity was measured in terms of "Internal Trail Unit" (ITU). The trail activity of a single worker sternal gland was found to be 15,000 ITU. This is the highest activity ever found in a worker of any termite species. The morphology and histology of the Sternal gland were investigated and described in some detail. Food preference experiments carried out concurrently in the field and in the laboratory, showed the range of food preference t be divergent in the two areas in another series of experiments it is shown that recruitment was directly proportional to the quantity of food discovered by the scouts. Finally, this study has provided a better understanding of the strategies employed by A. evuncifer in the exploration and retrieval of food.
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Termites , Insects , Exploratory Behaviour , Food Retrieval
Malaka, O. L. (1986), "Exploratory Behaviour and Food Retrieval Habit of Amitermes Evuncifier Silvestri (Isoptera, Termitidae, Termitinae)". University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts. 176pp.