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Feeding, Uptake, and Utilization of Carbohydrates by Western Subterranean Termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

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Western subterranean termite, Reticulitermes hesperus (Banks), prefers various mono-, di-, and trisaccharides, total feeding being the greatest on paper disks treated with 5% ribose followed by 3% xylose, 2% maltose, 2% fructose, 2% arabinose, and 2% ribose. In multiple choice tests, termites were not able to discriminate between 2% ribose, 2% fructose, 2% xylose, and 2% maltose. Termites readily take up [14C]sucrose in feeding studies. Most of the sucrose is used as an energy source for respiration (89.2%), a very small proportion remains within the termite (9.3%), and an even smaller amount is excreted as solid waste (1.5%). The amount of 14C label transferred to other colony members via trophallaxis, body contact, or grooming is small and directly dependent upon the time and numbers of donors and recipients. At day 15 postmixing, the percentage of transfer was highest, 14.4 and 15.1% for both 1:1 and 2:1 donor to recipient mixing ratios, respectively. The mean amount of labeled 14C received by recipients increased from seven disintegrations per minute (dpm) on day 2 to 30 dpm on day 15 for 1:1. Overall mean radioactivity recovered from recipient termites when mixed with donor termites at 1:1 ratio (20 dpm) was significantly less than (28 dpm) when mixed with donor termites at 2:1 ratio. Sugars act as phagostimulants to the termites at concentrations much higher to those that termites naturally encounter in wood. Termites readily metabolize carbohydrates such as sucrose, and thus their use in bait matrices may increase consumption and retention at bait stations.

Keywords: baits; carbohydrates; phagostimulants; subterranean termites

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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