Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 2865–2875 | Cite as

Caste-dependent reactions to soldier defensive secretion and chiral alarm/recruitment pheromone inNasutitermes princeps

  • Yves Roisin
  • C. Everaerts
  • J. M. Pasteels
  • O. Bonnard


The soldier frontal gland secretion ofNasutitermes princeps induces strong short-range caste-specific alarm and attraction in both soldiers and workers. Soldiers are excited and patrol the surroundings of the source. The secretion per se does not induce ejection of additional secretion. Large workers of the second stage or older are massively attracted when tested in homogeneous groups. They focus their activities much more accurately than the soldiers around the source. The workers' reaction is less intense in the presence of soldiers. Large and small workers of stage 1 scarcely react at all to the secretion, whether tested in homogeneous or mixed groups. These results suggest the following complementary roles of soldiers and workers in defense. The first line of defense is provided by soldiers, which immobilize and incapacitate mobile enemies with their sticky secretion. Defense then is completed by older large workers as they eliminate the source of disturbance. The absence of reaction of young workers, small or large, confirms previous reports on age polyethism inNasutitermes observed in other contexts: young workers tend to stay in the nest. Alarm reactions are elicited by a source of (+)-α-pinene, the major monoterpene in the secretion, while its enantiomer, almost absent from the secretion, induces a much weaker reaction.

Key Words

Nasutitermes princeps Isoptera Termitidae termites defense alarm recruitment pheromone α-pinene chirality polyethism 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yves Roisin
    • 1
  • C. Everaerts
    • 2
  • J. M. Pasteels
    • 1
  • O. Bonnard
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biologie Animale et CellulaireUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Zoologie Université de BourgogneUA-CNRS 674DijonFrance

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