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A PRELIMINARY INVENTORY AND COMPARISON STUDY OF TERMITES AT TWO DISTANT LOCATIONS IN MYSORE CITY

posted Feb 20, 2018, 3:41 AM by Sharath Adavanne   [ updated Feb 20, 2018, 4:15 AM ]

Read Part 1 here 


6: Odontotermes feae (Wasmann)




1

Total body length

Total body length is about 6.5-9.00 mm including mandibles. Body moderately pilose, thorax creamy yellow- rusty yellow, abdomen short, sub cylindrical, densely hairy, and legs slender and hairy.

2

Head and Head capsule

Head deep yellow –reddish brown, Head –capsule sub rectangular, longer than wide, widest near the posterior third, posterior margin rounded, moderately pilose.

3

Antennae

Antennae 17 segmented. Segment 2 is about twice longer than segment 3. Segment 3 is shorter. Segment 4 is larger than segment 5, segment 6 is shorter than segment 7.

4

Postclypeus

Indistinctly separated from frons, reddish yellow in colour.

5

Anteclypeus

Is whitish, narrow and apilous.

6

Labrum

Sub-triangular, the sides are sloping, anteriorly to a pointed tip. Reddish-yellowish in color.

7

Mandibles.

Deep reddish, brown basally, blackish brown elsewhere. Sabre-shaped, stoutly built, slightly longer than half of the head-long.

8

Left mandible

A medium sized tooth-lying near the middle of the inner margin.

9

Right mandible

With minute crenulations near the upper edge of the basal third.

10

Post mentum

Sub-rectangular, larger than breadth, swollen near the basal third.

11

Pronotum

Weakly saddle-shaped, anterior lobe much smaller than the posterior, anterior margin with weak median emargination. Posterior margin weakly to deeply notched medially.

12

Mesonotum

Is broader than Pronotum, posterior margin sub straight.



There is dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor.

This is mainly a subterranean, burrowing termite.When disturbed; the soldiers emit s white silky emission, which sets to a gummy mass. Though they are subterranean occasionally they build mound above the ground. They cultivate fungus.This termite is commercially known as one of the most important wood-destroying termites.


7: Odontotermes brunneus (Hagen)




1

Total body length

Total body length including mandibles is about 5.0 -7.0 mm. Body is densely hairy, rusty yellow in colour.

2

Head and Head capsule

Head is sub rectangularly oval, very slightly converged in front of antennae. Head capsule is fairly hairy, pale brown to reddish brown.

3

Antennae

Antennae 17 segmented, segment 3 is shortest, segment 4 is shortest than segment 2, segment 5 is shorter than segment 4.

4

Labrum

Tongue-shaped, with rounded anterior margin.

5

Mandibles

Thick, stout and short, strongly incurved, anteriorly. And shorter than head.

6

Left mandible

Is with a large prominent tooth, almost situated in the middle.

7

Right mandible

Is with a small tooth almost situated in the middle.

8

Postmentum

Sub rectangle

9

Pronotum

Saddle shaped. Anterior margin strongly notched and posterior margin weakly emarginate medially.

There are dimorphic working caste (1) worker major and (2) worker minor.

8: Trinervitermes nigrirostris Mathur and sen-sarma



This species is having two soldier caste (1) Soldier major and (2) Soldier minor

Soldier Major

1

Total body length

Total body length including rostrum 4.1-4,7 mm

2

Head and Head -capsule

Head with a few minute hairs.Head –capsule is brown, Blackish brown anteriorly. Head-capsule without rostrum is subcircular.

3

Body

Abdominal tergets smoky brown, tergets stramineous. Abdominal tergets without any long hairs, sternites with long and short hairs.

4

Rostrum

Rostrum sub cylindrical, blackish brown, tip slightly paler. Rostral hump absent.

5

Antennae

Antennae 14 segmented, pale brown, segment 3 is long and is about one and a half times of segment 2. Segment 4 slightly longer than segment 3 and 5.

6

Mandibles

Mandibles vestigial, without any spines.

7

Pronotum

Saddle-shaped, anteriorly, strongly raised. Anterior margin rounded with a broad, shallow, meridian depression. The posterior margin is convex, Pronotum with small hairs on margins.



Soldier Minor

1

Total body length

Total body length including rostrum 3.20-3.50 mm

2

Head and Head -capsule

Head with only scattered minute hairs. Head – capsule pale brown to brown, anteriorly blackish. Head –capsule without rostrum is sub-rectangular, blackish, long-cylindrical, sides incurved a little behind antennae.

3

Body

Abdominal tergets with long and short hairs

4

Rostrum

Blackish, long cylindrical little shorter than the head.

5

Antennae

Antennae are long, with 13 segments, segment 3 is more than twice as long as segment 2, segment 4 is about one and a half times , that of segment 2.

6

Mandibles

Mandibles vestigial, without any spines.

7

Pronotum

Saddle-shaped, smaller than in soldier Major.



Present Status:


After a gap of 3 years, a curatorial observation in the above said locations resulted in absence of few species. The effects of change in urban lifestyle, in addition to the rain pattern, seem to be the main reason for the decline in known termite species. In Roopa Nagara, residents have switched over to insecticides for maintenance of kitchen gardens & lawns. The vacant sites studded with numerous termite mounds were either destroyed by bulldozing or filled with pesticides to get rid of termites and reptiles. Repetitive massive cleaning of vegetation by burning is depriving dampness and organic-rich topsoil for ground and surface termite dwellers. A similar condition is prevailing in RMNH campus. The garden maintenance is inclined towards modern garden trends - lawns and few plant hybrids that are fully depending on synthetic manure and insecticides. Moreover, burning the bio waste -dry leaves, sticks, etc., is detrimental to microfauna. A major shift in priority of garden maintenance, from traditional, that supported a number of life forms to an aesthetically looking modern garden is clearly visible. Thus many species of local plants, insects, amphibians etc., are on the verge of exodus in addition to termites in both the study area.

References

  • Fauna of India ISOPTERA Vol-I and II. M.L.Roonwal and O.B.Chotani.

  • The south Asian wood-destroying termite, Odontotermes feae (indicus). Identity, biology and economic importance. Occasional paper-129, ZSI, M.L.Roonwal, and S.C.Verma.

  • Termite Fauna of Southern India by Geeta Bose.A miscellaneous publication. ZSI and other occasional publications.


Termite mound of Odontotermes obesus at Roopa Nagara

Acknowledgement

I am highly in debt to Dr.P.Ray, Scientist, instrumental in encouraging me as a science educator with continuous guidance. I am indebted to Dr. Nivedita Saha, Scientist-Isoptera and her team at Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata for the needful guidance and the literature sources.

Photo of head of Odontotermesfeae from Internet source


Author

S.J.Srinivasa, Senior Exhibit Preparator, Regional Museum of Natural History, Siddhartha nagara, Mysore-570011