Micronutrients are important for metabolic processes and structures in insects. How termites obtain micronutrients from the environment is not fully understood. It has been suggested that lower subterranean termites of Rhinotermitidae only gain their nutrients from their food sources. However, for subterranean termites, soil offers a potential source of micronutrients. This study tested the hypothesis that subterranean termites acquire micronutrients from the soil. Laboratory colonies of Reticulitermes flavipes Kollar were reared in arenas in which the levels of micronutrients, food, and soil were varied. The results showed that the micronutrients Ca (Calcium), Fe (Iron), Mg (Magnesium), and Mn (Manganese) were obtained from the soil, Cu (copper) was obtained by the food source, and K (Potassium) and Zn (Zinc) showed no differences between treatments. The results of this experiment suggest that subterranean termites can acquire micronutrients from the soil as well as other food sources.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3