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Using the right ballpoint pens in demonstrating termite trail-following behavior. Abstract
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Market available ballpoint pens were evaluated for demonstrating termite trail-following behaviors in Extension Urban Entomology Educational Program. 41 different ballpoint pens (3 brands, 23 types and 5 colors) were tested against 2 subterranean termite species, the Formosan subterranean termite (FST, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki) and the eastern subterranean termite (EST, Reticulitermes flavipes Kollar). Significant differences existed between different pens, as well as between the 2 termite species in eliciting or demonstrating trail-following behaviors. Recommendation is made for using the pens that stimulate the strongest positive reaction in each termite species.
Demonstration of termite trail-following behavior is imperative to inspire clients’ learning enthusiasm and to enhance their understanding of basic termite biology and behavior-based management strategies in Urban Entomology Extension Educational Programs. Ballpoint pens have long been used to elicit termite trail-following. However, failure and unexpected responses often occur when using different pens or different species.
The objectives of this project is to test the hypothesis that significant differences exist between different ballpoint pens in eliciting termite behavioral responses and between different termite species in behavioral responding to pen inks. The goal is to provide a solid information to extension educators on what kind of ballpoint pens should be used for termite trail-following demonstration.
Conclusion and Discussion
Recommended ballpoint pens for termite trail-following behavior are those eliciting type A behavior, according to the termite species you use in your extension program. The pen-ink drawing can be any shape or size since they have no effect on how termites will respond to it. Pens elicit type B response can also be used if you wait for a couple of sec before place termite to the drawing.
Chen et al (1998) identified 2-phenoxyethanol from Papermate® ballpoint pen ink as the trail-following substance with greatest activity at 0.0023-0.23 μg/cm. If it is the only active ingredient, type A pen inks should have this chemical at appropriate amount, type B pen inks may either have it at higher concentrations or contain a more volatile chemical that is repellent to termites, type C may simply do not have this substance.
Dunlun Song and Xing Ping Hu Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University
Material and Methods
Termites: Workers from FST and EST were tested.
Ballpoint pens: 41 different ballpoint pens from 3 most common brands (Papermate®, BIC®, and Pilot®) were evaluated.
Bioassay: A circle of 5.5 cm was draw on a letter-sized white paper. A worker was placed in the center of the circle. Termite response to the ink circle was observed for <2 min. Repeat 20 times with a new termite and a new circle on a new paper.
Termite behavioral reactions were recorded as 3 types:
A: Strong positive response: a termite located the ink trail in <15 sec and followed the trail ever since.
B: A negative response (>15 second) followed by a positive response.
C: No response: the test termite walked away indifferently and randomly.
Fig. 1. Trail-following arena
Fig. 2. Author was demonstrating termite following behavior