Methods for collecting large numbers of exuviae from Coptotermes (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) termite colonies

  • Reina Leilani Tong University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
  • Sang-Bin Lee University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
  • Jayshree S Patel University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
  • Thomas Chouvenc University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
  • Nan-Yao Su University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Davie, Florida 33314, USA

Abstract

The nutritional properties of subterranean termite exuviae (shed exoskeletons) are not well-known because obtaining the large quantities necessary for investigation is difficult. A method for collecting large numbers of exuviae is reported here for the Asian subterranean termite, Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann) (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae), an invasive and economically important tropical termite species. In this study, groups of 1,000 C. gestroi workers from 4-yr-old laboratory colonies (n = 3) were allowed to feed on a media pad dyed with Nile Blue A for 2 d. Approximately 16% of the original 1,000 workers did not uptake dye. These individuals were then placed into a Petri dish with dyed filter paper and checked hourly (10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M.) for 7 d. Newly molted workers and those individuals that started turning blue were removed to prevent feeding on exuviae. An average of 14 workers molted per d that yielded an average of 12 exuviae with an overall mean of 86 exuviae collected over the 7 d study period. We also found the number of individuals that acquired dye during the study significantly decreased by d. However, variables such as the number of exuviae, newly molted individuals, and cadavers were not correlated with d of collection because termites molt asynchronously.

Resumen

Las propiedades nutricionales de las exuviae de termitas subterráneas (exoesqueletos desprendidos) no son bien conocidas porque es difícil de obtener las grandes cantidades necesarias para su investigación. Aquí se informa un método para recolectar grandes cantidades de exuvias para la termita subterránea asiática, Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann) (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae), una especie de termita tropical invasora y económicamente importante. En este estudio, se permitió que grupos de 1,000 trabajadores de C. gestroi de colonias de laboratorio de 4 años de edad (n = 3) se alimentaran de una almohadilla de medio teñida con Azul Nilo A durante 2 días. Aproximadamente el 16% de los 1,000 trabajadores originales no tomaron tinte. A continuación, estos individuos se colocaron en un plato Petri con papel de filtro teñido y se controlaron cada hora (10:00 A. M. a 10:00 P. M.) durante 7 dias. Los trabajadores recién mudados y los individuos que comenzaron a ponerse azules fueron retirados para evitar alimentarse de las exuvias. Un promedio de 14 trabajadores mudaron por día, lo que produjo un promedio de 12 exuvias con una media general de 86 exuvias recolectadas durante el período de estudio de 7 días. También encontramos que el número de individuos que adquirieron tinte durante el estudio disminuyó significativamente por dia. Sin embargo, las variables como el número de exuvias, los individuos recién mudados y los cadáveres no se correlacionaron con los dias de recolección porque las termitas mudan asincrónicamente.

Key Words: Coptotermes gestroi; ecdysis; exoskeleton; molting; dye; histological stains

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Published
2021-01-18
Section
Research Papers