Population Growth Characteristics of Incipient Colonies of the Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

Mark A. Janowiecki, Susan C. Jones, Joshua L. Bryant


Growth of Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) incipient colonies during their first year was documented via a monthly destructive sampling census of 15 unique colonies, each headed by an inbred primary pair, for a total of 180 colonies. King and queen biomass greatly decreased during the first 2 months, coinciding with egg production and colony foundation, but their biomass remained relatively constant thereafter. Three cohorts of eggs were produced, with the greatest number of eggs (mean = 14.5) during the first month. Larvae were present at 1 month, and workers were first observed at 2 months. The survival rate of the initial brood was less than 100%, most likely due to cannibalism. A single soldier was first noted in some colonies at 6 months. Offspring biomass was equal to that of the reproductive pair at the 2-month census, double at 3 months, and quadruple at 11 months. One-year-old colonies ranged in size from 20 to 40 individuals, with an average of 28.9 individuals; total colony biomass was 39.8 mg. The growth rate of these R. flavipes colonies was much slower than was reported in other studies, but our observations are consistent with previous models and suggestions regarding colony growth.


colony growth, caste differentiation; inbreeding; reproduction

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v60i4.441-445


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