Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 1967–1978 | Cite as

Behavioral evidence for multicomponent trail pheromone in the termite,Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

  • Christina D. Runcie


Evidence is presented for a multicomponent trail pheromone in the eastern subterranean termiteReticulitermes flavipes (Kollar). Choice tests were used to compare strength and persistency of trails made by termites in glass tubes. Tubes connected to termite nests for 24 hr were marked by termites with an extremely long-lasting chemical that persisted for at least one year, and a highly volatile substance that decayed in 15 min. Individual termites varied the trail they deposited under different circumstances. When removed from the nest and placed in a clean tube, they deposited a highly volatile substance. They left stronger and more persistent trails when exploring clean tubes attached to the nest. When they discovered a new food source, they left trails that were more attractive and far more persistent than trails made by exploring or displaced termites. A food trail made by 15 workers was still effective after 24 hr, whereas a trail made by 50 displaced workers, walking one after another through a tube, lasted only 5 min.

Key words

Reticulitermes flavipes Isoptera Rhinotermitidae termite trail pheromone chemical communication 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina D. Runcie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel Hill

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