This study examined the responses of two termite species, the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, and the eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar), to three types of wood decay fungi: a brown rot fungus, Gloeophyllum trabeum (Persoon: Fries) Murrill; a white rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium Burdsall; and a litter rot fungus, Marasmiellus troyanus (Murrill) Singer. We also examined the responses of termites to these three types of fungi grown on different substrates. For all three fungal species, both termite species showed a strong preference for fungus-infected sawdust over uninfected sawdust. In choice tests, both termite species preferred sawdust infected with either M. troyanus or P. chrysosporium over G. trabeum. However, termites did not show any preference for fungus-infected potato dextrose agar over uninfected potato dextrose agar. Tunneling activity of C. formosanus was greater in sand treated with methanol extracts of fungus-infected sawdust than in sand treated with extracts of uninfected sawdust. Because chemicals in the fungal extracts caused termites to tunnel further into treated sand than untreated sand, these chemicals could potentially be used to direct termite foraging toward bait stations in the field.
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Vol. 95 • No. 1