Termites look a lot like ants.
They have been much hated because of the damage they can do to structures such as wooden homes, however they also have a very high ecological value, due to their being able to break down such things as fallen logs and return them to the ecosystems.
Termites are about an inch long, and live in large social groups called colonies. The average colony can range from just several hundred to several million termites and can contain several queens at one time.
Termites, like ants, have several different kinds of members of the colony. There are soldiers, workers, reproducing members, and queens, but one big difference is that they also have a king termite, and sometimes more than one.
Termites also differ from ants in many other ways.
Generally they live in very dark tunnels and do not venture out except to eat and to reproduce. Since they primarily eat from rotted wood or dead wood, when they do eat it is usually in a darker area such as under a home or porch.
Female termites that have flown from the nest been mated and are now making eggs are called queens.
A male that has mated with her and stays close to her is called the King.
Each termite mound can have several pairs of king and queens, rather than just one. Each hive has usually just one primary queen, who will be able to lay two or three thousand eggs in a single day.
She may have several sets of ovaries which help her to produce even more eggs, and her size is a bit larger than the normal termite. Her tummy will become enlarged due to the multiple reproductive organs and sometimes make her unable to travel any distance.
The termites will gather to move her if she finds it necessary to move to a new chamber in the termite colony. Depending on her size she will take the help of several hundred members of the termite colony to move.
The king is only a little larger than the regular termite and he will stay with the queen and continue to mate with her for his entire life.
Males in ant colonies will die soon after mating while in a termite colony they will become kings and live for several years beside the queen.
Only reproducing termites have good eyes and good vision while the others are able to see only minimally.
Workers do most of the foraging and food gathering as well as storing of the foods in the colony, while soldiers are able to defend against attack by other termites and sometimes by foraging ant colonies. They also feed and care for the juvenile termites which the queen and king have produced.
They Soldiers have greatly enlarged jaws, and use these to defend the colony against oncoming attacks.
Sometimes the soldier’s jaws become so large from continuing defense of the colony that they can’t eat by themselves.
When this happens they need to be fed, like a juvenile termite by the workers, who take care of them.
Termites in some areas such as dry savannahs will build extremely large termite mounts which may be as tall as many feet. They are intricate well built structures which will last for many years and continue to grow in size as the group grows.
In the case of the cathedral termite, the colonies house may grow to more than ten feet.
Find out more about the Termite over at Wikipedia »