Seasonal patterns of egg production in field colonies of the termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
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This is the first report on the annual egg production patterns in mature termite colonies in the field. Data on the seasonal patterns of egg production in field colonies are very important for understanding the annual colony growth schedule, resource allocation, and population dynamics of the termites. However, collecting the eggs from a sufficient number of colonies is extremely difficult in Reticulitermes termites because their multiple-site nesting makes it difficult to find the reproductive center of the colonies. Here, we first show the seasonal pattern of egg production in the subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus by collecting the reproductive center of ten colonies each month from April through October. We had to destructively examine dozens of nests to find eggs from enough field colonies each month. Mature field colonies began to produce eggs in late May, soon after the swarming season, and the egg production rate (EPR) reached its maximum in early July. The eggs hatched until late October. The EPR was significantly correlated with the average monthly temperature. Additional investigation of the egg distributions in the nests showed that most eggs were kept around the royal cell, which contained the reproductives. The largest colony had 109 supplemental queens and 94,023 eggs, suggesting that each queen produced an average of 24.7 eggs per day, based on the known mean hatching period of an inseminated egg of 34.95±0.12 (SE) days.
KeywordsAnnual life cycle Colony growth Reproductive schedule Sociogenesis Sociometry
We thank S. Tatsumi and A. Sato for their assistance in the course of this study, and K. Okada, F. Nakasuji, and T. Miyatake for their useful discussions. This work was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the Program for Promotion of Basic Research Activities for Innovative Biosciences (PROBRAIN) to K.M.
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