Trail Following

In termites, trail following mediates recruitment and is a basic component of foraging behavior. In several species, the source of the trail pheromone is the sternal gland (Stuart, 1961, 1969; Peppuy et al., 2001). Cockroaches that aggregate are similar to eusocial insects in that there is a rhythmical dispersal of groups from, and return to, a fixed point in space (e.g., Seelinger, 1984), suggesting that cockroaches have navigational powers that allow them to either (1) resume a previously established membership in a group or (2) find their harborage. It is difficult to separate the two, and site constancy and homing ability may be a general characteristic of cockroaches regardless of their social patterns (Gautier and Deleporte, 1986). Peri-planeta americana and B. germanica follow paths established by conspecifics as well as trails of fecal extracts (Bell et al., 1973; Kitamura et al., 1974; Miller and Koehler, 2000). Brousse-Gaury (1976) suggested that adult P. americana use the sternal gland to deposit a chemical trail during forays from the harborage. When the antennae of P. americana were crossed and glued into place, the cockroaches consistently turned in the opposite direction of a pheromonal trail in t-mazes, indicating that the mechanism employed is a comparison between the two antennae (Bell et al., 1973). There are indications of this kind of chemo-orientation in other species as well. The myr-mecophile Attaphila fungicola follows foraging trails of its host ant (Moser, 1964), and female cockroaches that have recently buried oothecae may disturb the substrate in an attempt to obliterate odor trails from detection by cannibals (Rau, 1943).

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