, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 392-397

Age related polyethism and activity rhythms in the nest of the termite Macrotermes bellicosus (Isoptera, Termitidae)

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Summary:

Age polyethism and total activity of M. bellicosus were investigated by using a newly developed marking method in combination with metal and photo detectors. Running activity to and from the queen cell and through the nest exit into a food arena were measured. With increasing age the workers change from the care of the queen to foraging activity. This change of activity from tasks inside the nest to tasks outside the nest took place between day 13 and 25 after adult moult for major and between day 9 and 32 after adult moult for minor workers. The overall activity to the foraging arena revealed a clear 24-h rhythm, with the highest activity in the evening at 20:00 h and the lowest activity in the morning at 7:00 h.

Received 4 September 1998; revised 13 March 1999; accepted 22 March 1999.