Intra-colonial Population of Macrotermes bellicosus (Smeathman) [Isoptera: Termitidae] in Sokoto, Semi-Arid Zone of North-Western Nigeria
The intra- colonial population of individuals within the mounds of mound- building termite, Macrotermes bellicosus (Smeathman) occurring in some selected Local Government Areas of Sokoto State were studied. A total of 72 cone shaped mounds were selected based on their heights. Populations
were estimated by randomly collecting and counting core samples from the mounds using a small bucket as the mounds were being excavated. At the end of the excavation, the total sand removed from the mound was crushed and measured using the same bucket. Total number of termites from a mound was extrapolated from the above estimates. Results indicate the presence of five different castes; reproductives, workers, minor and major soldiers and nymphs. The population of individuals per mound
apart from the reproductives, ranged between 14158.00 and 24777.67 with an average of 18,795.49 termites per mound. The nymphs were the largest (5,942.60) closely followed by the workers (5,547.70), while the minor soldiers are the least with 3,279.38. Significant difference (p<0.05) occurred between minor soldiers and nymphs, major soldiers and nymphs, minor soldiers and workers and minor soldiers and nymphs in some of the studied areas. The present study show M. bellicosus to have high population within individual mounds enough to cause damage if ignored. Being a pestiferous species that could promote erosion, appropriate control strategies are required for its control.
Key words: Macrotermes bellicosus, Mounds- building termites, intra-colonial Population, Mounds, Castes.