Reading and Writing in Biology
Biology; College of Arts & Sciences
Termite trail-following behavior occurs because of pheromones produced in the sternal gland of the termites and secreted when the sternal gland touches a substance. 2-phenoxyethanol, a chemical found in ballpoint pen ink, is structurally similar to the trail-following pheromones and causes the termites to respond with trail-following behavior. This study investigated the difference in trail-following behavior between ballpoint pen ink, which contains 2-phenoxyethanol, and Sharpie ink, which does not contain 2-phenoxyethanol. The termites were placed on a square drawn with either ballpoint pen ink or Sharpie pen ink. Time spent on each of the squares was measured. We predicted that termites would spend more time with the ballpoint pen ink and less time with the Sharpie ink, due to the presence of 2-phenoxyethanol. Our class results show that there is a significant difference between time spent on the ballpoint pen ink condition and time spent on the Sharpie ink condition, which supports our prediction and is supported by the results of previous studies. While our class results are significant, our group results are not significantly different between the ballpoint pen ink condition and the Sharpie ink condition, due to a lower sample size which is easily skewed by outliers.
Kershner, Ariel M., "Termite Trail-Following Behavior Elicited by Ballpoint Pen Ink" (2018). Faculty Curated Undergraduate Works. 49.