Injury and Development

There is a large body of literature indicating that minor wounds in cockroach juveniles delay development. Injuries to legs, cerci, and antennae result in an increased number of instars, in the prolonged duration of an instar, or both (Zabinski, 1936; Stock and O'Farrell, 1954; Willis et al., 1958; Tanaka et al., 1987). The developmental delay may be attributed to the allocation of limited resources, because energy and nutrients directed into wound repair and somatic regeneration are unavailable for progressive development (Kirkwood, 1981). This relationship between injury and development may be relevant to termites in two contexts. First, in a variety of lower termites, mutilation of the wing pads and occasionally other body parts is common (e.g., Myles, 1986). These injuries are hypothesized to result from the bites of nest mates, and they determine which individuals fly from the nest and which remain to contribute to colony labor. Injured individuals do not proceed to the alate stage, but instead undergo regressive or stationary molts (Roisin, 1994). The aggressive interactions that result in these injuries may be the expression of sibling manipulation if larvae, nymphs, or other colony members are doing the biting (Zimmerman, 1983; Myles, 1986), or they could indicate fighting among nymphs that are competing for alate status (Roisin, 1994).

A second, peculiar, termite behavior also may be linked to the physiological consequences of injury. After a dealate termite pair becomes established in its new nest, the male and female typically chew off several terminal segments of their own antennae, and/or those of their partner (e.g., Archotermopsis—Imms, 1919; Cubitermes —Williams, 1959; Porotermes—Mensa-Bonsu, 1976; Zootermopsis—Heath, 1903). This behavior is also recorded in several cockroach taxa. Nymphs of B. germanica self-prune their antennae (autotilly)—the ends are nipped off just prior to molting (Campbell and Ross, 1979). Although first and second instars of Cryptocercus punctulatus almost always have intact antennae, cropped antennae can be found in third instars and are common in fourth instars (Nalepa, 1990). Nymphs and adults of the myrmecophiles Att. fungicola and Att. bergi usually have mutilated antennae (Bolivar, 1901; Brossut, 1976), but Wheeler (1900) was of the opinion that it was the host ants that trimmed them for their guests. He likened it to the human habit of cropping the ears and tails of dogs. The developmental and/or behavioral consequences of antennal cropping are unknown for both termites and cockroaches.

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