International Journal of Tropical Insect Science

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 309–318 | Cite as

Observations on Trail Pheromone, Trail Laying and Longevity of Natural Trails in the Termite, Macrotermes Michaelseni

  • John MacFarlane


—The sternal gland in Macrotermes michaelseni is located in the anterior half of the fifth abdominal sternite between the third and fourth abdominal ganglia and overlapped by the fourth sternite. It is found in all castes including newly-swarmed de-alates. The gland is largest in major workers followed by major soldiers, minor soldiers and minor workers and is the only source of trail pheromone. Major workers have the highest potential trail pheromone activity followed by minor workers, male and female de-alates, minor soldiers and major soldiers.

There is a change in trail laying behavior with time and direction of travel, from the culture or from the arena and it can be correlated with the deposition of a light or heavy trail, or no trail at all.

The trail of one major worker leaving the culture is attractive to a significant number of workers for 1 hr 30 min and that of five major workers for 1 hr 45 min. The trail of workers leaving the arena is not as strong, one worker trail is attractive for 1 hr and five worker trails for 1 hr 15 min. The well-established trail is attractive to a significant number of workers for 9 hr. All trails lose attractiveness at a constant rate.

Key Words

Sternal gland trail pheromone trail laying natural trail major worker termite 


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Copyright information

© ICIPE 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • John MacFarlane
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.International Centre of Insect Physiology and EcologyNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Present address: ICRISAT/SAFGRAD, IAR, ABUZariaNigeria

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