Skip to Main Content
Table 2.

Some student-generated observations, inferences, and suggestions.

ObservationInferencePossible Tests
Termites follow some ballpoint pen lines but no other marks that we tested. Something about ballpoint pen ink is attractive to termites. Find out what is in ballpoint pen ink, and test the various chemicals with termites. 
Termites follow some colors but not others. Termites can see colors; the colors are chemically different. Substitute paths cut from colored paper; use microscope to see whether termites have eyes. 
Termites sometimes swing their heads from side to side while following trails. Termites are using their antennae to stay where chemicals are rising from the trail; termites smell the chemicals; termites are looking around. Clip antennae or cover with a blocking substance, then see what happens; use microscope to see whether termites have noses or eyes. 
Even with “successful” inks, termites follow some better than others. Termites are attracted by some component of the ink, not by the whole mixture; age of the pen matters. Learn the ingredients in various pens, and compare them; make lines with old and new pens of same type. 
Over time, termites don’t follow a trail as well. Finding no food reward, termites no longer “pay attention” to the trail; something about the ink is changing over time; the attractive component is something that evaporates. Put a fresh termite on the same trail that the older one no longer follows; vary trail age by marking lines at different time intervals. 
ObservationInferencePossible Tests
Termites follow some ballpoint pen lines but no other marks that we tested. Something about ballpoint pen ink is attractive to termites. Find out what is in ballpoint pen ink, and test the various chemicals with termites. 
Termites follow some colors but not others. Termites can see colors; the colors are chemically different. Substitute paths cut from colored paper; use microscope to see whether termites have eyes. 
Termites sometimes swing their heads from side to side while following trails. Termites are using their antennae to stay where chemicals are rising from the trail; termites smell the chemicals; termites are looking around. Clip antennae or cover with a blocking substance, then see what happens; use microscope to see whether termites have noses or eyes. 
Even with “successful” inks, termites follow some better than others. Termites are attracted by some component of the ink, not by the whole mixture; age of the pen matters. Learn the ingredients in various pens, and compare them; make lines with old and new pens of same type. 
Over time, termites don’t follow a trail as well. Finding no food reward, termites no longer “pay attention” to the trail; something about the ink is changing over time; the attractive component is something that evaporates. Put a fresh termite on the same trail that the older one no longer follows; vary trail age by marking lines at different time intervals. 
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal