Termites

Termites - as she can lay them. Eventually some of the...

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Termites There are about 1,800 species of termites widely distributed in tropical and sub-tropical countries. They are organised into colonies similar to those of bees and ants but they are unrelated to these insects. The following account relates to one of these species, Macrotermes bellicosa . From time to time, swarms of winged termites emerge from their nest. When they land, they shed their wings and mate. The female lays her eggs in the soil. The eggs hatch to nymphs which are tended by the two parents. The nymphs grow into workers and take over the duties of the nest but their further development is suppressed. Some of the workers become soldiers which defend the nest from invaders. There may be hundreds of thousands of workers in a colony The colony eventually becomes so large that the queen does nothing more than lay eggs. Her abdomen becomes very large, the workers wall her up, feed her and carry away the eggs as fast
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Unformatted text preview: as she can lay them. Eventually some of the worker nymphs undergo their final moult and become winged adults which leave the colony to swarm, mate and start new colonies. All termites feed on plant material, mainly cellulose from wood. Some species can digest cellulose but Macrotermes carries the wood back to the nest where it is chewed, made into a comb and used to grow fungus. The termites then feed on this fungus. Although the nest starts underground, the workers build large mounds from clay, sand and their saliva. The size of the mound varies according to local conditions, but the nest chamber is above ground level. Queen termite Winged termite (adult) Worker (nymph) Soldier (nymph) 1 cm 1 cm 1 cm 1 cm compound eye abdomen no eyes jaws abdomen jaws Section through termites nest vertical shaft helps ventilate the nest tunnel to food source nest area and fungus comb soil level D.G.Mackean 3 m high or more...
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