Chemical Composition of the Frontal Gland Secretion ofSyntermes Soldiers (Isoptera, Termitidae)

J Chem Ecol. 1981 Jan;7(1):135-45. doi: 10.1007/BF00988641.


The defensive secretions from the frontal glands of soldier termites of the genusSyntermes contain similar mixtures of mono- and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons. The major components inS. dirus, S. molestus, S. brevimalatus, S. peruanus, and a new species (Syntermes sp. n), iscis-β-ocimene. A substantial amount of aristolochene is found inSyntermes sp. n. and is present at lower levels in all the other species;S. brevimalatus contains onlycis-β-ocimene and aristolochene. The four other species also contain minor amounts of epi-α-selinene and germacrene A. The latter compound has been identified on the basis of its rearrangement product β-elemene. The termiteS. grandis differed markedly from the otherSyntermes species in that no terpenoid components were found in the soldier extract. With the obvious exception ofS. grandis, the same soldier-specific mono- and sesquiterpenes occurred in all species. The total amount of secretion per unit weight of soldiers varies with the species and is inversely proportional to the development of the mandibular apparatus. InS. molestus smaller gland size is compensated for by a greater number of soldiers foraging trails.