Poster or Presentation Title

Termites are more attracted to chemicals under nest like conditions than in open air

Access Type

Campus Access Only

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Department

Biology

Abstract

Reticulitermes flavipes, termites commonly found in Virginia, communicate using chemicals. This research aims to determine how the behavioral responses change in open air (0.04% CO2) as compared to the nest, where CO2 levels are around 5%. Water, hexane or acetone, were used to extract food related chemicals from pine wood chips. 2-phenoxyethanol was used as a synthetic trail pheromone. Each chemical was tested at least 20 times. Each time, one termite was released into an arena, filmed, and its location determined 3 times per second for 3 minutes. Hexane and acetone extracts were approached more often than the controls. When termites are moved from open air to 5% CO2, the attraction was enhanced. However, after 60 minutes of 5% CO2 exposure attraction faded. Water extracts never led to any response. A line of 2-phenoxyethanol is followed as a trail. Under open air, most termites initially followed the trail (1mM concentration), but then regularly deviated from the trail. Under 5% CO2 levels, fewer termites deviate from the trail and most termites never leave the trail. At 1M concentrations of 2-phenoxyethanol, termites did not walk directly on the trail, instead followed the edge.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jurgen Ziesmann

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Termites are more attracted to chemicals under nest like conditions than in open air

Reticulitermes flavipes, termites commonly found in Virginia, communicate using chemicals. This research aims to determine how the behavioral responses change in open air (0.04% CO2) as compared to the nest, where CO2 levels are around 5%. Water, hexane or acetone, were used to extract food related chemicals from pine wood chips. 2-phenoxyethanol was used as a synthetic trail pheromone. Each chemical was tested at least 20 times. Each time, one termite was released into an arena, filmed, and its location determined 3 times per second for 3 minutes. Hexane and acetone extracts were approached more often than the controls. When termites are moved from open air to 5% CO2, the attraction was enhanced. However, after 60 minutes of 5% CO2 exposure attraction faded. Water extracts never led to any response. A line of 2-phenoxyethanol is followed as a trail. Under open air, most termites initially followed the trail (1mM concentration), but then regularly deviated from the trail. Under 5% CO2 levels, fewer termites deviate from the trail and most termites never leave the trail. At 1M concentrations of 2-phenoxyethanol, termites did not walk directly on the trail, instead followed the edge.