Journal of Economic Entomology (2016) 109, 792-799

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Garima Kakkar, Thomas Chouvenc and Nan-Yao Su (2016)
Postecdysis sclerotization of mouthparts of the Formosan subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
Journal of Economic Entomology 109 (2), 792-799
Abstract: In termites, it is challenging to recognize the incidence of molting in workers because of their successive stationary molt, asynchronous molting among individuals, cryptic behavior, a soft and poorly sclerotized cuticle, and they immediately consume the shed exuvia of nestmates. This study describes a method in which the degree of sclerotization of the mouthparts in newly molted workers of the Formosan subterranean termite can be quantified and used to determine if an individual has recently molted, within a 36-h time frame. Changes in the tanning of mouthparts over time were used as a measure of the index of sclerotization in workers postmolting. Upon ecdysis, the primary point of articulation of the mandible already initiated sclerotization, which may allow the movement of the mandibles during the shedding of the exuvium. The sclerotization of the secondary point of articulation and the mandibular teeth, and the width of sclerotization of the mandibles, progressively increased until reaching a plateau around 36-h postecdysis, which imply that workers can regain some level of activity as early as 2 d after ecdysis. Our observations allowed for the determination of variables for the sclerotization of the mouthparts to easily identify workers that recently molted, and this method will be useful in future studies that focus on the molting activity of workers over time and space within a termite colony, in the scope of improving current control strategies for termite pests.
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Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Thomas Chouvenc, Nan-Yao Su

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Coptotermes formosanus