Termite Lab

2 February 2017

The effect of pens on the Reticulitermes flavipes termite Abstract This experiment was constructed to determine which type of writing utensil the termites were most attracted to and why. The experiment was performed by placing two separate circles (one red papermate and one lead pencil) on a piece of paper to see what line is favored by the termite. The termite was placed on the lead pencil path first, and then on the red papermate pen path to count how many seconds the termite remained on or followed the pathway.The termite stayed on the red papermate line for a much more significant time than on the lead pencil line. “The presence of insect pheromones that chemically control the behavior of highly specialized social insect species has been well documented…The substance (pheromone), when streaked across the surface of a solid object, creates a trail following response in termite workers allowing them to follow the exact streak” (Tai, Matsumura, and Coppel, 1969).

This shows that the papermate pen contains the substance pheromone or something similar.Because of the pheromone the termite was able to follow the papermate pen marking much better than the lead pencil marking. Introduction Pheromone is any chemical substance released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology or behavior of other members of the same species. Red papermate pens let off this pheromone. This means that when the termite was placed on the papermate line there was already pheromone present, and every time the termite touched the line even more pheromone was let out which increases the chances of the termite following the red papermate line.The Tschinkel and Close article from 1972 supports this by saying “The trails are not polarized and there is a quantitative relation between the number of termites laying the trail and the fraction of test the termites with follow correctly. Workers reinforce the trails…” On another note the lead pencil which does not give off the pheromone is less likely to be found or even followed by the termites.

Termite Lab Essay Example

In this study the amount of time the Reticulitermes flavipes stayed on the red papermate line was directly compared to the amount of time the termite stayed on the lead pencil line, to see which line the termite was most attracted too.Before doing the actual experiment using several different colors and brands of pens, markers, and pencils circles were drawn on a piece of white computer paper to see how the Rericulitermes flavipes termites would react to all the different colors and textures. Even though this had nothing to do with the actual experiment it still opened eyes to the point of the actual experiment, which was finding of whether the termite was more captivated by the red papermate pen or the lead pencil.Everything above supports the hypothesis that the Rericulitermes flavipes termite will follow the red papermate pen, which gives off a pheromone, and will not follow the lead pencil, which doesn’t give off a pheromone. Methods Using seven (7) different pens and makers, all of different brands and colors, there were several circles, or paths drawn on a plain printer ready white sheet of paper. Once all the markings had been placed on the paper a Reticulitermes flavipes termite was placed on a path to see if it would follow the line created with the pen or marker.Each time the termite was centered on the paper it headed directly toward the red papermate pen path.

These sequences were repeated 6 times and every time the termite would do the exact same things as the first time, search for the red pen marking. Next a plain piece of paper was placed and the only thing drawn on it was one circle with a lead pencil and one circle with a red papermate pen. During each of five (5) trials a different Reticulitermes flavipes was used.In the course of the first trial the termite was placed on the red papermate pen path, timing the termite with a stop watch, the insect stayed on the path for the complete thirty seconds. Then the same termite was placed on the pencil path, and stayed for a total of zero seconds. During the second trial a new termite was placed on the red papermate pen line it also stayed on the path for the maximum thirty seconds. Later the same termite was placed on the lead pencil path and reacted just like the first termite, walked away from the pencil path.

It was very odd that during the third trial the termite did react to the lead pencil circle for 10 (ten) seconds, meaning it followed the path of the pencil for that time. In the fourth and fifth trial the termite did the same thing as the first and second termites they followed only the red papermate pen path and walked away from the lead pencil circle. Results The table below shows all the results from the experiment and even some extra information. The table displays the mean of the times the termites stayed on the pencil and papermate circles.

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