Replacement of the Royal Pair in Macrotermes Michaelseni

  • R. Sieber
  • J. P. E. C. Darlington
Research Article


At intervals of 2 months over 1 year, 64 royal cells were removed from mounds of Macrotermes michaelseni to find out whether a new royal pair was produced. In five mounds replacement reproductives were found. Young reproductives from incipient laboratory colonies were never accepted as replacements if they were introduced after the removal of the primary reproductives. One out of 10 royal pairs was accepted if the royal cell was introduced immediately after removal of the original one, and three out of 10 survived if the royal cell was introduced 1 week after the removal of the original one.

Replacement reproductives were only produced when nymphs or alates were in the nest at the time the primary reproductives were removed. It was not possible to find out at what time after the removal a new royal pair was accepted but measurements of the replacement queens showed that they can become fully physogastric within 7 months.

Key Words

Macrotermes michaelseni Macrotermitinae Isoptera royal pair replacement reproductives alates nymphs 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bordereau C. (1975) Déterminisme des castes chez les termites supérieurs: mise en évidence d’un contrôle royal dans la formation de la caste sexuées chez Macrotermes bellicosus Smeathman (Isoptera, Termitidae). Insectes soc. 22, 363–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coaton W. G. H. (1949) Queen removal in termite control. Fmg S. Afr. 24, 335–338.Google Scholar
  3. Darlington J. P. E. C. (1977) Nest structure and distribution of the population within the nest of the termite Macrotermes subhyalinus. Proc. 8th Int. Congr. IUSSI, Wageningen, pp. 246–248.Google Scholar
  4. Harms J. W. (1927) Koloniegrundung bei Macrotermes gilvus Hag. Zool. Anz. 74, 221–236.Google Scholar
  5. Mukerji D. and Mitra P. K. (1949) Ecology of the mound-building termite, Odontotermes redemanni (Wasmann) in relation to measures of control. Proc. zool. Soc. Beng. 2, 9–27.Google Scholar
  6. Noirot Ch. (1956) Les sexués de remplacement chez les termites supérieurs (Termitidae). Insectes soc. 3, 145–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Roy-Noël J. (1974) Contribution à la connaissance des reproducteurs de remplacement chez les termites supérieurs: observations sur Bellicositermes natalensis (Macrotermitinae). C. r. hebd. Séanc. Acad. Sci., Paris 278, 481–483.Google Scholar
  8. Sieber R. and Leuthold R. H. (1981) Behavioural elements and their meaning in incipient colonies of the fungus growing termite Macrotermes michaelseni (Isoptera:Macrotermitinae). Insectes soc. 28, 371–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ICIPE 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Sieber
    • 1
  • J. P. E. C. Darlington
    • 1
  1. 1.International Centre of Insect Physiology and EcologyNairobiKenya

Personalised recommendations