How termites recognize queens, kings

This 2009 video says about itself:

Her Majesty, The Termite Queen | National Geographic

Journey to the center of the…termite nest? Hard to believe this termite queen will produce almost 165 million eggs in her lifetime!

From North Carolina State University in the USA:

Termite queen, king recognition pheromone identified

March 19, 2018

Summary: Forget the bows and curtsies. Worker termites shake in the presence of their queens and kings. New research explains how these workers smell a royal presence.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have for the first time identified a specific chemical used by the higher termite castes — the queens and the kings — to communicate their royal status with worker termites. The findings could advance knowledge of termite evolution, behavior and control.

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a wax-like hydrocarbon — a chemical consisting of only carbon and hydrogen atoms called heneicosane — on the body surface of subterranean royal termites is used to enable worker termites to recognize and care for them. Termites live mostly underground or in wood and are generally blind, necessitating the use of chemical signals to communicate.

“This is the first report of a queen recognition pheromone in termites and the first report of a king recognition pheromone in insects”, said Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State.

Schal and NC State Ph.D. graduate Colin Funaro, the paper’s co-corresponding authors, used gas chromatography to isolate specific chemicals from the exoskeletons of royal and worker Reticulitermes flavipes termites and found heneicosane on the royal termites, but not on workers.

When heneicosane was placed on glass dummies serving as royal termite proxies, workers did not bow or curtsy, but instead started shaking — an action that seemed to reflect the termite version of royal recognition. Workers shook even more when the royal pheromone was blended with other hydrocarbons from the colony’s workers that represent the colony’s odor.

“Termites use a two-step recognition process — the colony’s odor gives workers a ‘home’ context and heneicosane within this context denotes ‘royals are in the home'”, Schal said.

“The royal-recognition pheromone lets workers know that there is a queen or a king present and that everything is stable in the colony”, Funaro said. “Worker termites shook more when realizing that the royals were also nest mates.”

Schal said that the study upends the commonly held belief that queens of the insect order Hymenoptera — ants, bees and wasps — were the first to use these wax-like hydrocarbon pheromones for royal recognition.

“Termites appeared some 150 million years ago while the social Hymenoptera appeared about 100 million years ago, so this discovery of a hydrocarbon as a royal-recognition pheromone in termites appears to predate its use in [other] social insects“, Schal said.

R. flavipes termites are major pests in North Carolina and the Southeast, causing billions in damage, Schal added. In recent years they have spread to the west coast of the U.S., and into Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia.


Meghan Markle’s Anglican baptism with holy, but polluted? water

This 8 March 2018 video from England is called Meghan Markle has finally been baptized into the Church of England.

By Tom Powell in Britain, 8 March 2018:

Meghan Markle has reportedly been baptised into the Church of England in a secret ceremony led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The divorced American actress is said to have been formally introduced to the Anglican faith with Prince Harry at her side ahead of their wedding in May.

The Daily Mail reported that the 45-minute service took place at the Chapel Royal on Tuesday evening, using holy water from the River Jordan.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were among the guests at what was described as a private affair. …

Holy water from the River Jordan was poured on the former Suits star’s head as part of the religious ritual, the Daily Mail reported.

That water may have been holy, but it was also very expensive, as it had to be flown in from Israel/Palestinian territory/Jordan. Commoner Church of England baptisms cost a lot less. Though the water may have been holy, it may have harmed Ms Markle’s health: as there are big river Jordan pollution problems.

Spanish monarchists angry about football team’s shirts

Spanish national football team's new shirts, EPA photo

This photo shows the Spanish national football team’s new shirts, intended for the world championship in Russia in 2018.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

New red-yellow purple shirts of Spanish team are ‘attack on monarchy

There is a problem with the new Spanish national team football shirt: it is supposedly a secret tribute to the Republican flag.

Spanish republican flag

The football federation president is said to even have received from the highest circles – the king, it is whispered – complaints about the design. On social media, many opponents are calling for a boycott.

By Maartje Bakker

The jersey of the Spanish team is traditionally red and yellow, often with a dash of blue. This time, Adidas, the creator of the shirt, chose to apply thin blue stripes to the red. Any toddler knows: that gives a purple effect. Red-yellow-purple, which are the colours of the Spanish Republic in the thirties. So, an attack on the monarchy and constitution. And just at a time when those, especially from Catalonia, are already very much under fire.

The republican flag always accompanies Catalans demonstrations. The region retains good memories of those years when the Catalan republic (within the Spanish state) was proclaimed, with far-reaching self-government.

Left-wing politicians are delighted with the new national colours. “It’s been a long time since the Spanish selection had such beautiful shirts,” provokes Pablo Iglesias, leader of the socialist protest party Podemos, on Twitter. …

The soccer players seem to be wisest this time. “I think it’s a beautiful shirt”, said Vitolo.