Vibrational Communication

Termites use vibratory signals in several functional contexts. Drywood termites, for example, assess the size of wood pieces by using the resonant frequency of the substrate (Evans et al., 2005). When alarmed, many termite species exhibit vertical (head banging) or horizontal oscillatory movements that catalyze increased activity throughout the colony (Howse, 1965; Stuart, 1969).

While cockroaches are known to produce a variety of acoustic stimuli in several functional contexts (Roth and Hartman, 1967), a recent review of vibrational communication included no examples of Blattaria (Virant-Doberlet and Cokl, 2004). It is known, however, that Peri-planeta americana is capable of detecting substrate-borne vibration via receptors in the subgenual organ of the tibiae (Shaw, 1994b), and that male cockroaches use a variety of airborne and substrate-borne vibratory signals when courting females, including striking the abdomen on the substrate. Tropical cockroaches that perch on leaves during their active period may be able to detect predators or communicate with conspecifics via the substrate (Chapter 6). Adults and nymphs of Cryptocercus transmit alarm to family members via oscillatory movements nearly identical to those of termites (Cleveland et al., 1934; Seelinger and Seelinger, 1983).

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Oplan Termites

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