In this study, we investigated the mechanisms used by the arboreal termite Nasutitermes corniger (Motschulsky, 1855) to follow trails from the nest to sources of food. A plate containing one of seven trail types was used to connect an artificial nest of N. corniger with an artificial foraging arena. The trail types were: termite trail; paraffined termite trail; trail made of paraffin; rectal fluid extract trail; sternal gland extract trail; feces extract trail; and solvent trail (control). In each test, the time was recorded from the start of the test until the occurrence of trail following, at which point the number of termites that followed the trail for least 5 cm in the first 3 min of observation was recorded. The delay for termites initiating trail following along the termite trail was lower (0.55 ± 0.16 min) than in the trails of sternal gland extract (1.05 ± 0.08 min) and trails of termite feces extract (1.57 ± 0.21 min) (F2, 48 = 22.59, P < 0.001). The number of termites that followed the termite trail was greater (207.3 ± 17.3) than the number that followed the trail of termite feces extract (102.5 ± 9.4) or sternal gland extract (36, 9 ± 1.6) (F2, 48 = 174.34, P < 0.001). Therefore, feces on the trail may play an important role alongside sternal gland pheromones in increasing the persistence of the trail.
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Vol. 31 • No. 1