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28 September 2020 Colony Foundation and the Development of Incipient Laboratory Colonies of Macrotermes natalensis (Haviland) (Termitidae: Macrotermitinae)
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Abstract

Alates of the fungus-growing termite Macrotermes natalensis (Haviland), a pest of building structures and forestry, were collected during swarming flights in Pretoria, South Africa (25°43′S 28°14′E), during the early summers of 1997 and 1998. Incipient colonies were reared in the laboratory with colony foundation and development and caste differentiation being observed over three months. Early colony mortality was high, with only a 4 % survival rate over three months. Oviposition began 4–12 days after pairing, with all females collected after a specific swarming flight starting to lay on the same day. The oviposition rate was initially high, with a mean of 17.85 (S.E. ± 1.314) eggs per individual being laid in the initial clutch; thereafter, the rate decreased to a mean of 1.7 (S.E. ± 0.078) eggs per day. Following hatching, the rate of oviposition decreased further to 0.9 eggs per day (S.E. ± 0.3049). Incubation of eggs varied between 20 and 34 days. As with oviposition, hatching started on the same day in all colonies set up after a specific swarming flight; however, not all the eggs laid on that specific date hatched simultaneously. Second (L2) and third (L3) instar larvae first appeared in the colonies a mean of 6.6 (S.E. ± 0.578) days and 11.5 (S.E. ± 0.3193) days, respectively, after the first eggs hatched. The first pre-soldier (SPS), which developed from a third instar larva, was differentiated a mean of 21.85 (S.E. ± 0.748) days after hatching, with the first soldier (SS) appearing 30.75 (S.E. ± 0.4787) days following hatching. The first major (LW) and minor (SW) workers were differentiated respectively 26 ± 0.660 and 28 ± 0.905 days after hatching. Approximately three months after alates had left the parent nest, workers began foraging. At three months, the single surviving colony contained 60 individuals. No large soldier (LS) had differentiation by 20 months.

©Entomological Society of Southern Africa
J.D. Mitchell "Colony Foundation and the Development of Incipient Laboratory Colonies of Macrotermes natalensis (Haviland) (Termitidae: Macrotermitinae)," African Entomology 28(2), 215-224, (28 September 2020). https://doi.org/10.4001/003.028.0215
Received: 26 November 2018; Accepted: 6 March 2020; Published: 28 September 2020
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