Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 2:35 PM

Reticulitermes malletei: A valid Nearctic subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) from the eastern United States

James Austin, jwaustin@ag.tamu.edu, Texas A&M University, department of entomology, 2143 TAMU, College Station, TX, Allen Szalanski, aszalan@uark.edu, University of Arkansas, Department of Entomology, 319 Agriculture Building, Fayetteville, AR, and Roger E. Gold, r-gold@tamu.edu, Texas A&M University, department of entomology, 2143 TAMU, College Station, TX.

The genus Reticulitermes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) are the most damaging subterranean termite species to structures within the urban landscape of North America. Morphological ambiguity, inconsistent diagnosis of characters due to clinal and habitat variation, and the unavailability of diagnostic castes, have precluded the correct identification of Eastern Nearctic species. One such species, herein identified as Reticulitermes malletei, has been identified from six Atlantic states including: Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Morphological examaination of soldier prontoa, labra, comparison of reproductive alates, demonstrate some distinct characters for species identification. Subsequent evaluation of sequence data, applying the 16s rRNA gene, demonstrate the monophyletic nature of the species relative to all known congeners from that region. This cryptic species is most frequently misidentified as either R.virginicus or R. hageni based on comparisons of either alates or soldiers, respectively. However, comparison from a phylogenetic perspective clearly identifies R. malletei as a valid cryptic Nearctic subterranean termite species.

Species 1: Isoptera Rhinotermitidae Reticulitermes malletei

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