Survivorship and Behavior of Termites in Various Moisture Regimes

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exhibit Hall 4 (Austin Convention Center)
John Zukowski , Fort Lauderdale Research & Education Center, University Florida, Davie, FL
Nan-Yao Su , Ft. Lauderdale Research & Education Center, University of Florida, Davie, FL
As a group, termites are considered to be one of the most desiccation prone insects. This is mostly attributed to their soft bodies and small size. Termites address the problem of desiccation through behavioral and physiological means, both as individuals and as a group. Means to conserve internal and external water resources include reliance on metabolically derived water, regulation of the microhabitat, modification of the substrate, and behavioral mechanisms. Here we evaluated the survivorship and behavior of termite groups placed in six moisture regimes. Cryptotermes brevisCryptotermes cavifronsCoptotermes formosanus, and Neotermes jouteli were collected and placed in chambers containing wet wood, dry wood, free water, wet sandy soil, and dry wood with a separate free water source. An empty chamber (ambient humidity only) was also included. The chambers and the termites were monitored until all individuals in a chamber had died or became moribund. C. formosanus and N. jouteli lived longer in the more moist conditions, whereas the Cryptotermes spp. died more quickly in these conditions as they were unable to adequately acclimate to higher humidity conditions.