The effect of pens on the Reticulitermes flavipes termite
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.
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...
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