Aspects of Searching and Tunneling Behavior in Resource Utilization by the Formosan Subterranean Termite, Coptotermes Formosanus Shiraki.

Justin Carl Hedlund, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College


Formosan subterranean termites, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), were acclimated with different masses of pine or no wood (control) and then allowed access to a thin sand filled tunneling chamber. As available pine increased, termite survival and food consumption increased but search tunnel volume decreased. Increased food size resulted in termites excavating fewer exploratory tunnels due to decreases in secondary and tertiary branch tunnels. An increase in food size also decreased the total length of a search tunnel network, due to decreases in primary and secondary branch order lengths. Search tunnel networks had proportionally more length devoted to primary tunnels and proportionally less to secondary tunnel length as available food size increased. This experiment supports that the Formosan subterranean termite adjusts search activity in response to available food size and this behavior should be considered when determining bait placement for termite control.