A total of 280 laboratory colonies of Reticulitermes urbis were raised for 3 years, in order to observe caste differentiation and overall colony growth, and to investigate whether the initial composition (0, 2 or 4 nymphs; 0, 5, 10, 20 or 50 workers) affected colony survival, population growth and other colony dynamics. We also wanted to determine the minimum number of individuals needed to establish a vital colony. As a result, every colony beginning with less than 20 workers died within 60 weeks, while colonies beginning with at least 20 workers survived until the end of the tests, with varied survival rates dependent upon the initial size and the time of formation (summer or autumn). The number of nymphs did not affect colony survival and colony growth. Reproductives developed from nymphs within 2 weeks and later from workers. Many of the reproductives derived from nymphs were killed by workers. The majority of the colonies contained two reproductives 3 years after initiating the tests. In addition, a few individual workers were still alive at the end of the 3-year tests. At the end of the tests, the proportion of soldiers ranged anywhere from 5.23 to 7.69% of the total population. The number of viable “juveniles” from each colony was relatively low throughout the tests and the overall population growth was not sufficient enough to replace dead workers or increase the colony size considerably. These results indicate that the potential to establish viable and sustainable colonies for groups of R. urbis composed of 5–50 workers is very low.
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