Bioassay with the subterranean termite reticulitermes; food preference and movement over four days in a y-tube, choice arena
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Reticulitermes workers were exposed to three 1-cm3 wood blocks of pine, poplar, red oak or redwood placed into no-, two-, and four-choice bioassay designs. Preference ranking obtained using four formulas in addition to one resistance class and two standardized visual rating scales. Termites were also placed into y-tube design composed of substrate-, food-, and empty-chambers and their movement pattern recorded using sensors and video. Results indicated that no-choice design can determine aversion; four-choice design the most preferred wood; and two-choice design the fine details of preference ranking. The different consumption rate formulas did not influence results of the two-choice design. In the y-tube arenas, termites were observed aggregated in one of three chambers independent of food location and displayed preference in movement between two chambers. Video observations illustrated that certain individuals traveled more frequently than others and three mass-movements involving >50% of individuals moving from one chamber to another.