How do termites grow

Termites (Isoptera)

The termites or isoptera are insects. More than 3000 living and fossil species are known today, divided into twelve families (including three fossil families). They live in states of several million individuals.

Find out everything about the appearance of the animals, their diet, reproduction, the area of ​​distribution and their habitat. You will also find a lot of information about the termite caste system and how the animals communicate with each other. Finally, we go into the question of whether the termites are pests or perhaps even beneficial insects and how they can be combated if necessary.

Table of Contents

Characteristics and appearance of termites

Termites are extremely light-shy animals. That is why they hardly need any pigments. Their colors range between transparent white and white-yellowish. Your body consists of antennae, head, chest, abdomen and the insects' own six legs. They have a shell made of chitin, but it is rather soft. There are big differences in appearance among each other depending on the type and area of ​​responsibility.

Size of termites

The largest termite is a queen of the genus Macrotermes natalensis when it measures 140 mm in length with a bulging abdomen at the height of its childbearing potential. Workers grow to a height of two to twelve millimeters, soldiers reach three to twenty millimeters and sex animals are up to 15 millimeters long.

The four wings of the sex animals are long and uniform. This has given the termites their ordinal name Isoptera (means "equal" and "winged"). They can reach a length of 88 millimeters. However, they do not make the insects into flight artists. Your flight is awkward and fluttering.

Peculiarities of sex animals

The colors of the sex animals differ from their termite siblings. They are more yellowish to brown, sometimes even black, because they leave the termite colony for the wedding flight. The pigmentation protects them from the sun's rays.

The animal's head can move freely and is compact. The adults have two medium-sized, fully developed compound eyes. Some genera have two ocelles. These are point-shaped eyes that serve as a light sense organ. Since this caste has to be self-sufficient for some time, they have powerful mouthparts.

Termites only need their wings for a short time. This is why you can break it out at the base of the wing as if with a predetermined breaking point. The wings are laid flat on top of each other over the abdomen. They are either transparent or cloudy and the color varies from white to gray.

As is customary with arthropods, the legs are made up of tarsi. There can be three to five links in total. The long abdomen consists of 10 segments. At the tip of the abdomen, some termites have two short appendages called cerci.

The external sexual organs are barely recognizable and make it difficult to distinguish between male and female. Only the tip of the abdomen of the females is somewhat shortened in some genera.

What do workers and soldiers look like?

The eyes of the workers termites are underdeveloped, most of them are blind. Mainly these animals orientate themselves with their antennae. These are short and consist of joined links that are strung like a string of pearls. Termite workers are the smallest adult members of the colony.

Termites, which are responsible for defending the community, have particularly noticeable heads. They are larger and have huge mouthparts or mandibles. Their legs are strong and in some cases they have a poison gland on their head. In the nasal termites of the family Rhinotermitidae, the soldiers wear a lip extension called a gabelnasuti instead of the mandibles. The term comes from Latin and means something like "big-nosed".

Both workers and soldiers of termites can be female and male. In most cases, however, they do not reach sexual maturity.

How do termites feed?

The menu plan for these insects is actually quite boring. The menu includes wood, dry grass, leaves and humus. Other termites plant mushroom gardens and live on their yield. Their task in nature's ecosystem is to recycle dead plant parts and dead wood and to break down waste.

How does the termite digest its hard food?

The lower species of termites live mainly on wood. In order to be able to decompose this hard material, they are equipped with a special digestive system. They shred the wood fibers before they land in the stomach and midgut. There the particles are broken down by the first enzymes, whereupon the mass reaches the rectum.

In the rectum there is a fermentation chamber in which certain single cells (protozoa) and bacteria live in symbiosis with the insects. They break down the cellulose from the wood fibers with an enzyme they produce. To do this, the protozoa in turn work closely with the bacteria. As a result of the chemical reactions, acetic acid and glucose, among other things, are produced, on which the termites ultimately live. In addition, this digestion process causes high methane emissions and makes a significant contribution to the greenhouse gas.

Higher termite species no longer have protozoa. They no longer live exclusively on wood, but instead eat dead plant parts, grass, leaves and roots. Even so, these termites still have to digest cellulose. In addition, they have a higher proportion of the body's own cellulases and also live in symbiosis with various types of bacteria that support them in digestion.

Division of labor in feeding the termites

At the beginning of the termite state there are king and queen. You start the nest by building a king's chamber. At the beginning the two take care of themselves. They bring the necessary protozoa and bacteria with them from their home nest in the digestive tract. When the first larvae hatch, they are fed with vomit. In this way the termites “infect” themselves with symbiotic protozoa and bacteria.

Afterwards, the first batch of children takes over the catering of the royal couple. The workers swarm in search of food. They pre-digest the food. Your job is to feed the soldiers, the royal couple and the brood. If a hungry member of the colony comes by, it strokes the worker with its feelers. The vomit is then fed to him. Larvae and the royal couple are also cared for in this way or live on the excrement. The technical term for this type of transfer of food is trophallaxis.

If the termites molt, they also expel protozoa and bacteria with the faeces beforehand. They become infected again with their symbiotic partners by being fed by other workers.

Cultivation of mushrooms in termite nest

Some species of termites grow fungi and live on their fruiting bodies (bromates). These mushroom gardens grow on pre-digested food components. The working-class families of the subfamily Macrotermitinae collect organic material, eat it and excrete the partially digested feces in the mushroom chambers. The mushroom mycelium grows on these parts of the plant. The termites not only provide their fungi with food, but also protect them from pests.

The multiplication of the mushrooms is based on the spores. The insects eat the fruiting bodies and excrete the spores undigested with the feces. The fungal spores can also find their way into new colonies of the termites via the distributed feces. The different species of termites each have their own species of fungus. The colony cannot survive without the fungi of the genus Termitomyces.

What are harvest determinations?

The lower termites, which mainly live on dead wood, usually build their nests in or on this food source. The colony will stay there until the food runs out.

However, harvest termites, which belong to the lower termites, live on grass and other parts of plants. The workers search the area around the colony for edible material. This way of life enables them to thrive in treeless steppe landscapes. Since they are traveling above ground, they are darker in color than their colleagues, who predominantly exist in the dark.

Termite Boxes - How Does Social Work Work?

Everyday life in termite burrows is lively. Several million animals can be gathered in it. This social state is based on the cooperation of all those involved. Three different castes and different development stages of termites live and work together. All are related to each other.

The sex animals

Each termite colony has only one pair of sex animals. The termite king and queen live secluded in a room and are constantly looked after by a crowd of workers. Your job is to bring new life into the world. The king mates with the queen regularly. She is busy laying several thousand eggs a day.

Depending on the termite species, a group of young, winged sex animals grows about once a year and leaves the colony for their wedding flight to found a new termite state. Once one of these termites has found a partner, they form the royal couple of another separate state.

The hardworking workers

Most of the duties in the state are carried out by the workers. They build the nest, widen the corridors and procure the food. They are also responsible for looking after the brood and feeding the other termites. They are male and female, but their sexual organs are not developed.

With the Termitidae and some genera of the Rhinotermitidae, the caste is finally determined after the development to the worker. In the case of lower termites, the stage of the worker is not necessarily fixed. The work is done by adult larvae. These are then called pseudo-gates or "false workers" because they can molt into sex animals. However, they will always remain wingless termites.

Workers looking for food often build tunnels to protect them from the sun's rays or get to their destination underground. Some species send soldiers out to escort to defend the food gatherers against enemies.

Aggressive defenders protect the colony

The termite soldiers are equipped with powerful biting tools and a noticeably enlarged head. They also exist in both sexes, but they cannot reproduce.

If the nest has to be defended against ants or other termites, the soldiers use their mandibles and fight hand-to-hand by biting and pinching. They try to inflict fatal wounds on the enemy. With their big jaws, the soldiers are even able to pinch people.

A frontal gland on the forehead sprays a poisonous mixture that can be fatal to other insects. They are more aggressive than the other termites because their main job is to defend the entire colony.

Some soldiers block the entrances to the nest with their large heads when they are attacked.

Self-sacrificing commitment

But not only the soldiers gave their lives for the family. Researchers have discovered that for some species of termites, as a last resort measure, workers blow open their abdomen and hurl a deadly poison at the enemy.

Crystals are produced in special glands in the abdomen, which give the secretion its paralyzing effect. The workers do not survive this act. Your abdomen is destroyed and the organs are exposed.

How do termites reproduce?

Determined by factors such as time of day, humidity, wind speed and weather, the wedding flight of the adult, winged termites (adults) takes place. The conditions and seasons of the year in which the flight takes place differ from species to species. Hundreds of adults flutter through the air.

"Wedding" of the termites

When the winged termites begin their wedding flight, they are looking for two things: a suitable partner and the location for the new colony. They are not yet fully sexually mature, but some females are able to attract the males with messenger substances. If two animals have found each other and the right piece of wood or the space for a burrow is perfect, the termites begin to beat their wings violently. These break off at the predetermined breaking points.

Now both partners start to build the king's chamber and part of the nest. From now on they will spend their days in the dark of the building. During this time, the king and queen reach sexual maturity and mate. Initially, the termite lady lays only a few eggs, which the couple cares for together. If the first larvae develop into pseudo-gates or workers, they take care of the brood and take care of the royal couple. The king mates regularly with his partner. They stay together until death.

Termite queen laying eggs

The abdomen of the female sex animal grows over the years. This also increases the number of eggs it forms. She then lays around a thousand eggs every day. In some species, the queen reaches 40,000 eggs a day at the peak of her laying performance.

Now the termite life cycle begins. After the eggs are laid, they are placed in certain chambers. Larvae with legs hatch from the eggs and can eat independently. They go through several stages of development. They shed their skin every time. Workers provide them with food.

Which boxes do the termite larvae develop into?

Researchers assume that hormones that the termites pass on through feeding are partly responsible for the development of the larvae. Social signals can also be used as triggers, which are transmitted when there is contact with other colony members. After each moult, the larva reaches its next stage of development.

If wing buds develop in the larva, it develops into a nymph. The nymph also goes through several stages until it has its wings and leaves the nest as an imago for the next wedding flight. It takes several months or even years for a larva to develop into a winged sex animal. In the lower termite species, a nymph can develop back into a "false worker" by molting.

Old larvae or pseudo-species are the workers of the lower termites. They can also molt later with the right impulse to become sex animals. This is usually the time when the wood, in which they live, is running out of food.


In other termite species, larvae develop into workers. Even at this stage, moults with further development can still be found.

Soldiers arise either from workers or from nymphs. These termites go through at least one stage of development at which their mandibles are not yet usable.

Death of the sex animals

If one of the sex animals dies or both die, that does not mean the end of the whole colony. The termites have different ways of doing this.

If the termite queen has died, the reigning king sends out pheromones that promote the development of replacement queens. Female workers develop into tertiary sex animals. However, they are unable to produce the same amount of eggs as the original queen. Existing larvae or nymphs become secondary sex animals. These animals also do not develop wings, but only become sexually mature.

In some cases, the queen is able, through parthenogenesis, to continue reproduction without her partner. Larvae then also develop from their unfertilized eggs.

If both sex animals have to be replaced, male workers or larvae and nymphs also develop into replacement sex animals. If the original adults are replaced by their offspring, this is called neoteny.

Only in a few cases do several of these new sex animals remain alive. Usually there is still only one royal couple in the colony. Surplus animals are removed from the other colony inhabitants. Since the new adults are related, inbreeding problems with the future termites are inevitable.

Termites and their structures

Gigantic mounds of earth shape the picture in large parts of rainforests and savannas. The termite dwelling is criss-crossed by a veritable labyrinth of corridors and chambers. The hard-working, little architects also think about the ventilation and stability of the nest. They also keep the temperatures constant inside. But not only the famous termite mounds serve as a habitat for the various species. They live in rotting or dry wood, build nests on trees and under the ground and the gigantic hills mentioned.

How are termite nests built?

The workers are mainly responsible for the construction. They create corridors and chambers within the building. To do this, they mix saliva with soil. Alternatively, feces or partially digested plant parts are used as building material. The mixture dries out rock-hard and gives the termite's structure the necessary stability. Tunnels and galleries connect the nests with the ground, with food sources or are used for foraging.

Nests in wood

Lower termite species build their nests directly in their food source, the wood. They also attack tree trunks and stumps, houses and wooden objects. The termites of the species Kalotermitidae love hard, dry wood. Other species specialize in rotted wood. Some species connect the nest to the soil below.

Cardboard nests on trees

Other structures are made of wood and manure. The mixture made with the help of bacteria is similar to cardboard, hence the name. Cardboard nests usually have an oval shape. They hang high up in trees, either on the trunk or in the forks of the branches. The royal chamber is located in the center of the interior. Long tunnels and galleries criss-cross along the trunk. They connect the nest to the ground under the tree and enable the termites to roam safely.

Termite nests

Rhinotermitidae are termites that build their homes underground. The nest can take on gigantic proportions with the corridors leading to food sources. Large areas under concrete and asphalt are being built on. So they have short distances to their sources of food, the wood and beams of the houses above. This makes these termite species extremely dangerous to buildings.

Termite mounds

The termite mounds are just the visible parts of a structure that continues underground. They come in many different forms. Inside is the chamber of the sex couple. This is followed by spaces for the eggs and larvae. Larger larvae and workers also have their rooms. Species that grow mushrooms also create chambers for growing their gardens.

The largest mounds are built by species of the African Macrotermes and one species of the Australian Nasutitermes. They can reach heights of over eight meters. The hills are shaped like gigantic domes or look like pyramids and pillars. Battlements and turrets adorn the tall buildings.

High, pointed elevations serve as wind shafts and supply the hill with fresh, cooling air. The compass termite hills are about five meters high. The narrow side faces south and the main part faces north. As a result, the sun does not heat up the house.

Air conditioning and ventilation

Due to the termite's metabolism, which releases a lot of carbon dioxide and methane, the building requires excellent ventilation. Some species also have to eliminate the gaseous metabolic products of their mushroom gardens. In addition, the termites live in parts of the world where there are high temperature fluctuations between day and night. But you yourself need a constant temperature of around 20 ° to 30 ° Celsius.

For these reasons, the nests and buildings have air shafts that provide ventilation and equalize temperatures. Pyramid and columnar mounds use the chimney effect to get rid of the gases. The hills are insulated to keep the warmth of the day overnight.

Changes in the colony

Some termite species form further nests, so-called satellite nests, which, however, remain dependent on their parents' structure. Mergers between two colonies almost never happen, because neighboring termite states are usually enemies and the termites meet extremely aggressively.

Communication with each other - can termites talk?

States with thousands or even millions of individuals would be helpless and chaotic without communication. Termites organize themselves and are able to fight enemies, build architecturally high-quality nests and procure food. There is a division of labor among the castes. How do the insects communicate with each other?

Hormones as messenger substances

Which development a larva takes and which caste it will belong to depends on hormones that are passed on among the individual animals of the insects. Via these messenger substances, the individual also learns whether sex animals are alive in the state. This affects whether secondary and tertiary adults form.

Winged adults can also be found on the wedding flight via emitted messenger substances. Mostly it is the female specimens that attract the male insects with their sexual attractants.

Members of the same state recognize each other by means of pheromones. Through these contact pheromones, they can also identify termites from other colonies as opponents. The composition of the intestinal bacteria serves as a further characteristic to distinguish friend and foe. The insects read chemicals that are emitted by this intestinal flora with their sensitive receptors.

An alarm pheromone from the frontal gland informs other animals of a danger to the whole state.

Along their routes, workers leave pheromones from their mammary glands. Fellow comrades “smell” this trace with their feelers. The termites tell each other where to find food and organize themselves when they build their nests.

Mechanical communication

The feelers serve the termite for orientation and as a tactile organ, but soldiers and larvae also use them to inform the workers that they are hungry. They also perceive the messenger substances of other termites via the feelers, which convey information to them.

Some types of termites use vibrations to give alarm signals. They drum their heads on the floor. Other termites sense the vibrations through sensors on their legs. Depending on which legs are detected by the vibration waves first, it tells the recipient from which direction the alarm is coming.

Some termites run in a zigzag through the corridors and bump into others who recognize this run in connection with the alarm pheromones emitted as a warning of danger.

On the construction

It is not the individual termite that decides how, when or what is built in the nest. The workers as a whole recognize structures and build on them. So they work together as an intelligent collective. They recognize changes in the environment or in the behavior of their employees and react to them.

How do termites live? Distribution areas and habitat

Termites are at home almost everywhere in the world. However, she loves tropical and subtropical areas. It can also be found there with many species. Only the Antarctic has not yet been settled. Due to the transport of infected wood and other objects, many species were introduced even in atypical areas. These termites have adapted to their new habitat.

Spread on the continents

Because of its temperate climates, Europe cannot boast many termite species. Up to ten species have been discovered so far. North America already has around 50. Asia, South America and Australia, on the other hand, each offer a home to several hundred termite species. However, Africa is the front runner. Around 1000 species have been found there. In Africa in particular, there are countless termite mounds in some areas wherever you look.

Introduction of termites

In Germany, colonies of introduced species are known in Hamburg and Berlin. They were probably brought into the country through wood on ships that was later used as construction timber. So far, the animals have been able to hold on despite the suboptimal conditions.

Termite species that are not native to the region have settled in many countries. An example is Florida, where there are two of these introduced termite species. The insects have conquered different parts of the world by cargo ship or plane.

Which habitat do termites prefer?

In North America, there are mainly termite species that prefer moist, rotting wood, species that feed on dry wood, and species that create underground earthworks. Moist wood termites are mainly found in coniferous forests. Dry wood termites are more comfortable in deciduous forests. Termites nesting underground can be found wherever there is food for them.

In Africa there are drywood termites and underground nesting species, but the most common here are the termites that build mounds. These insects can also be considered beneficial insects. Their work loosens the soil. This means that previously sterile areas of the soil can be used again. The moisture they spread in the soil also helps restore fertility.

Australia is home to all types of termites. The

Pest or beneficial insect - where are the termites in the ecosystem?

The termites are known to most as pests. They destroy entire buildings and can hardly be stopped. Are they also useful in their living space? What do people do against the rage of destruction?

Pests

Termites are the silent pests of wood. It often happens that the infestation is only noticeable when the affected object collapses. The insects never eat the wood to such an extent that it collapses on its own. They ensure sufficient stability. But external forces then lead to final destruction.

The termites have a pronounced preference for moisture. The eaten wood corridors provide enough space and moisture for fungi, which further destroy the eaten wood.

What damage do the insects do? Foundations and beams on houses are destroyed just like wooden railway sleepers or electricity pylons. They attack wooden ships and books, trees and furniture. Nothing containing cellulose is safe from these insects. In addition, in some areas they feed on crops and trees and destroy them with considerable loss for the farmers. Infested plants include peanuts, eucalyptus, and coffee.

In total, only 183 species of termites can really be regarded as pests. Of these, around 80 species are responsible for major damage to wooden structures. Most of the problems are caused by the Australian species Mastotermes darwiniensis.

What helps with termite infestation?

Poisonous baits are laid out. In this way, humans exploit the functioning of the termite state, because the workers feed the poison to the entire colony. If you know where the nest is, you can use growth regulators or poisons that destroy the nest.

During the construction of buildings, barriers are set up in the earth beforehand, which make it difficult or impossible for termites to access the building. These include layers of gravel and plastic sheeting or steel mesh. Chemical barriers are also possible.

The wood can be impregnated with various chemical agents before use. Against damp wood termites, it also helps to protect wooden structures against moisture. Termites do not like to eat certain types of wood. If such types of wood are available, it is worth building with them.

In some countries it has proven useful to generously treat the land with toxic substances before building.

Beneficial insects

In the wild, termites are destructive and decompose organic substances, which they return to the natural cycle. In doing so, they contribute to the ecosystem.

They live in symbiosis with protozoa, bacteria and fungi. With their nests, they reclaim the soil in desert areas or after over-management. The workers dig deep to get moisture and make these plant roots accessible. In addition, the loosened earth can store rainwater better.

Termites are a good source of protein and fat in many parts of Africa and Asia. That is why the winged insects are collected and prepared on the wedding flight. The queens are a specialty because they are said to have an impact on fertility. Some of the insects are fed to farm animals. In economically weak areas, they are an important addition to the menu for humans and livestock.

Predator and Prey - Who Hunts the Termite?

In the termite mound, the insects live protected from the sun and hot temperatures. The building also looks like a fortified castle, the walls of which are reinforced by concrete-like mortar. The soldiers who defend this castle have terrifying weapons with their biting tools and poisonous secretions. What predators do the termites have to use such an arsenal against?

The termite as prey

The worst predators that hunt termites are ants. Some species of ants even specialize in this prey. Each uses its own approach. The Megaponera ants carry out organized raids on termites. Just like the Paltothyreustarsatus, who carry home as many prey as they can in their mandibles. The Tetramorium uelense send a scout ahead. If he encounters termites, he returns and asks some workers to follow him. The workers paralyze and kill the prey with their spikes. Centromyrmex and Iridomyrmex build their nests in termite mounds and live from the termite colony there. The prey is not entirely helpless. Soldiers with their powerful biting tools often accompany the workers on their forays and defend them. Their mandibles are excellent weapons of defense against the ants. But the poisonous secretion that they squirt works better on other termite species than on the ant. Even workers do not surrender without resistance. Some species tear open their abdomen and hurl another poisonous secretion at the attacker. They die themselves, but the majority of the ants are paralyzed or killed.

Another powerful enemy is the anteater. None of the termites' defense mechanisms can help against it. The anteater rips open the termite structures. He uses his long claws and opens the hill like a can. Then he drives his long tongue into the gears. The insects stick to it. It eats up to 35,000 of them a day.

The insects are also on the menus of many other animals such as aardvarks, bats, some bears, foxes, but also mice and pangolins. Dozens of species of birds, arthropods, and reptiles feed on termites. These include cockroaches, dragonflies, and scorpions. Lizards, frogs and toads also like to indulge in termites. Some insects such as digger wasps, beetles or spiders take the opportunity when the winged adults leave the nest for their wedding flight. They hold a feast among the poorly flying, defenseless animals.

Chimpanzees like to sit on termite mounds and dig for individual termites with long sticks, which they can then eat.

Another predator comes from the plant kingdom. The pitcher plant on Borneo attracts termites of the species Nasutitermitinae. This carnivorous plant has a pot-like opening that is surrounded by white hairs. The white hair is a delicacy for termites. A few hundred workers swarm out to harvest the hair. Many of them slide down into the jug. There they stick and can no longer free themselves. They are broken down and digested.

Other enemies of the termite colony are parasites such as flies, mites and some nematodes. In the event of a parasite infestation, the colony sometimes migrates to another location. Fungal infections> can also bring a colony to its knees. Some viruses are dangerous to the insects. However, due to the withdrawn lifestyle of the termites, viruses do not get into the interior of a colony so quickly. However, once parasites, fungi and fours are in the nest, they spread very quickly due to the social way of life and the frequent contact between the insects (for example through the trophallaxis).

The termite as an enemy

Termites are not predators. But they compete with other termite colonies. This aggressive defense of food sources can lead to deadly combat. Fatal clashes between several secondary or tertiary sex animals also occur within the colony.

Since termites cause great damage to buildings made of wood, the value is already in the hundreds of millions of euros in individual countries, humans consider them as enemies and fight their colonies.

Taxonomy and systematics of termites

The taxonomy makes it clear where the termite is in the larger whole of living things. It explains to which groups (for example: tribe, class, order ...) it can be assigned, indicates relationships with other animal groups and explains how the termite family is composed.

Classification of the termites

The termites belong to the tribe Euarthropoda (arthropods), the superclass Hexapoda (six feet) and the class of Insecta. In the subclass Pterygota (flying insects) they form their own order of the Isoptera. The term Isoptera comes from the Greek and means “equal” and “winged”. This refers to the two almost equally large pairs of wings of the sex animals.

Scientists disagree on whether the termites deserve their own order or should rather be inserted as subordination to the Blattodea (cockroach-like). One possibility is also to form a superfamily Blattoidae, in which the “Termitoidae” could represent an “Epifamily”.

The closest relatives of the termites are the cockroaches and fishing rodents. This includes the cockroaches.Despite their similar appearance, ants and wasps are not included.

What is the distribution within the order Isoptera?

Twelve families are counted, including three fossil families (Archeorhinotermitidae, Cratomastotermitidae and Termopsidae).

The families are:

  • Archotermopsidae with three genera and six species
  • Hodotermopsidae with three genera and 21 species
  • Kalotermitidae with 21 genera and 456 species
  • Mastotermitidae with one genus and one species
  • Rhinotermitidae with 12 genera and 315 species
  • Serritermitidae with two genera and 3 species
  • Stolotermitidae with two genera and ten species
  • Stylotermitidae with one genus and 45 species
  • Termitidae with 238 genera and 2072 species

The Mastotermitidae family is the most primitive of all termites. It has only one living species (the Australian Mastotermes darwiniensis), but some fossil genera and species are known.

Kalotermitidae are dry wood termites and belong to the lower termites. They do not have full-grown workers, but pseudo-gates.

The Hodotermitidae family includes the harvest termites, which feed on grass and parts of plants.

One family that builds earthen nests and cardboard nests is the Rhinotermitidae. Their soldiers have an elongated appendage instead of the mandibles and are also called nasal termites.

The Termitidae include the higher termites. They include the species that grow mushrooms and build large mounds. They are the largest of the termite families. More than 75% of all species belong to the Termitidae.

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