Termites Eating Together

Schedorhinotermes

Minor soldier, soldier and worker of the termite genus, Schedorhinotermes
Photo: Bong & Colleagues DOI:10.3923/je.2012.68.78

The West African termite Schedorhinotermes lamanianus forages outside the nest. Foraging workers are at risk from predators, especially ants. Workers are guarded by minor soldiers as they travel along the trails and feed at their feeding sites. The workers aggregate at a single site when they feed. This makes them easier to guard than if they were dispersed more widely. What causes foragers to aggregate? When a forager feeds, it secretes saliva to aid the ingestion of food. The saliva contains a substance that is a signal to other foragers to aggregate at the site.

Kaib, M. & Ziesmann, J. 1992. The labial gland in the termiteSchedorhinotermes lamanianus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae): Morphology and function during communal food exploitation. Insectes Sociaux 39:373-384.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01240622

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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1 Response to Termites Eating Together

  1. CollageMama says:

    I wish I could figure out a way to use this for a preschool table manners lesson!

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