Media made from brown-rotted elm and pine wood for rearing Reticulitermes termites Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractTermites are not only decomposers in forest and savanna ecosystems, but also major pests of wooden buildings worldwide. Therefore, termites have long been of interest to researchers, and there has been a need for media for maintaining termites in the laboratory. Recently, a "brown-rotted pinewood mixed cellulose" (BPC) medium using the Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora) was developed as a medium for long-term stable rearing of the subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus. It is unclear whether the method of preparing the BPC medium can be applied to other termite species using different types of wood. Here, we developed two media for rearing two American termite species (Reticulitermes flavipes and R. virginicus): "brown-rotted elm wood mixed cellulose" (BEC) medium using winged elm (Ulmus alata) and BPC medium using loblolly pine (P. taeda). In colony foundation by R. flavipes dealates, about 80% of the incipient colonies on BEC and BPC media successfully produced larvae and workers, whereas less than 21% of the colonies on cellulose media did so. Long-term rearing of R. flavipes workers showed that the food consumption rate was higher on the BEC and BPC media than on the cellulose medium. On the other hand, long-term rearing of R. virginicus workers showed that the apparent digestibility coefficient was higher on the BPC medium than on the other media. These results indicate that the BEC and BPC media can be used for both colony foundation by dealates and rearing workers in R. flavipes, and that the BPC medium is more suitable for rearing R. virginicus workers. These new media and others made using the same process will contribute to the maintenance of termite colonies in the laboratory for a variety of experiments.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Mitaka, Y., & Vargo, E. L.

complete list of authors

  • Mitaka, Y||Vargo, EL

publication date

  • 2023