The effect of temperature on tunneling and food transportation activity of four subterranean termite species, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann), Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks), and Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar), was examined. The experiment was conducted at 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35°C and ≈ 99% relative humidity (RH) using 10- by 10-cm planar arenas. Tunneling areas excavated by termites at 12 and 48 h were analyzed using two-way analyses of variance. The number of food particles and their total linear distance 6 h after termites reached the food source were recorded. The result showed that termites reached the food faster at higher temperatures with the exception of R. virginicus. As the temperature increased, tunneling speed generally increased, though tunnel areas at some temperatures within species at 12 and 48 h were not significantly different from each other. Once they reached the food, the tunneling speed substantially slowed down. In the food transportation study, the number of food particles and their total linear distance from the food source for C. formosanus, R. virginicus, and C. gestroi generally increased with the rise of temperature, while those for R. flavipes were temperature independent. These results may help to explain seasonal activities of the four termite species and to provide information to the application of monitoring and baiting system.
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