Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive

Date:
September 7, 2009
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
The drywood termite, Cryptotermes secundus, eavesdrops on its more aggressive subterranean competitor, Coptotermes acinaciformis, to avoid contact with it, according to scientists in Australia.

Cryptotermes secundus termites form small colonies and have few workers. They can ‘eavesdrop’ on their more aggressive relatives Coptotermes acinaciformis.
Credit: Photo by Patrick Gleeson

The drywood termite, Cryptotermes secundus, eavesdrops on its more aggressive subterranean competitor, Coptotermes acinaciformis, to avoid contact with it, according to scientists from CSIRO Entomology and the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Related Articles


Both species eat sound dry wood and can co-exist in the same tree but, while drywood termite colonies contain only about 200 individuals and are confined to one tree, colonies of Coptotermes – Australia’s dominant wood-eating termite – contain around a million individuals, including thousands of aggressive soldiers, and can forage on up to 20 trees simultaneously.

“We already knew that chewing termites generate vibrations which they use to determine wood size and quality, so it seemed possible that one species could detect another using these vibrations,” CSIRO Entomology’s Dr Theo Evans said.

“We found that Cryptotermes could use vibration signals to distinguish between their own and Coptotermes individuals. They would even respond to recorded signals.

“This is the first time the ability to identify a different species using only their vibration signals has been identified in termites.

“Because vibration signals move rapidly through wood and can be detected from a distance, the vulnerable species have an eavesdropping advantage as they can detect their aggressive relatives without having to come into contact with them.”

Dr Evans said the advantage to Cryptotermes in avoiding Coptotermes was made very clear in one trial where the Coptotermes tunnelled through a 20mm block of wood and killed all the Cryptotermes.

Cryptotermes and the ‘tree piping’ Coptotermes are heartwood eaters and are among the few termites groups that attack buildings. Eighty-five percent of Australian trees are infested with Coptotermes.

Coptotermes enter trees through their roots and it is their ‘tree piping’ that produces the raw material for the didgeridoo.

This research – conducted in collaboration with Professor Joseph Lai at UNSW@ADFA and with the support of the Australian Research Council – was recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831131359.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2009, September 7). Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831131359.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831131359.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Bionic Ants Could Be Tomorrow's Factory Workers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) Industrious 3D printed bionic ants working together could toil in the factories of the future, says German technology company Festo. The robotic insects cooperate and coordinate their actions and movements to achieve a common aim. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Captive-Born Panda Triplets Are Eight Months Old

Captive-Born Panda Triplets Are Eight Months Old

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) The world&apos;s only surviving captivity-born panda triplets turn eight months old, according to China’s state media. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

Lions Make Surprise Comeback in Gabon

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Lions have made a comeback in southeast Gabon, after disappearing for years, according to live footage from US wildlife organisation Panthera. Duration: 00:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

Ancient Egyptian Beer Making Vessels Discovered in Israel

AFP (Mar. 30, 2015) Fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer and dating back 5,000 years have been discovered on a building site in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said on Sunday. Duration: 00:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins