Foraging in subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae): how do Heterotermes tenuis and Coptotermes gestroi behave when they locate equivalent food resources?
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A previous research suggests that when subterranean termites locate equivalent food they consume the initial food resource. However, little is known about the movement of foragers among these food sources. For this reason, this study analyzed the feeding behavior of Heterotermes tenuis and Coptotermes gestroi in the presence of equivalent foods. The experimental arenas were composed of a release chamber connected to food chambers. The consumption of each wood block and percentage of the foraging individuals recruited for the food chambers were observed in relation to the total survival rate. The results showed that in the multiple-choice tests, wood block consumptions and the recruitment of individuals did not differ between replicates of each termite species. However, in different tests of tenacity, the chambers with the first food presented higher feeding rates by both H. tenuis and C. gestroi and resulted in a higher recruitment of workers and soldiers. In these conditions, it may be concluded that foragers of either species do not concentrate their efforts on the consumption of only one food resource when they are able to reach multiple cellulosic sources simultaneously. Additionally, the data concerning tenacity tests suggest that there is a chronologic priority of consumption in relation to the discovery of available food sources. Knowledge about the foraging biology of subterranean termites is important for future studies of their feeding behavior, and it is indispensable for improving control strategies.