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How to identify termite larva


Termites - herbivorous insects belonging to the termite infraorder. These insects, although remotely resemble ants, are close relatives of cockroaches. About 3106 species and 331 genera are described, including fossil termites. Scientists suggest that termites stood out from the cockroach squad in the Paleozoic.


Let's consider how termites look on the example of representatives of various castes. Working insects have:

  • light color
  • soft chitin-coated body
  • underdeveloped thoracic region,
  • a large head equipped with powerful mandibles.

The length of their bodies is from 2 mm to 1.5 cm. The eyes of workers and soldiers are poorly developed or absent. On the head are threadlike antennae with a large number of segments. By their length, the age of the insect is judged.

The size of termites varies depending on which caste an individual belongs to. If the workers are quite small, then the termite soldiers have a large (2 cm) body and a large head with such powerful mandibles that they are not able to eat on their own and feed their working termites. In some species, the mandibles are reduced, but there is an outgrowth on the head, from which the nosed soldier “shoots” the scaring secret of special glands at the enemy.


Winged termites have two pairs of faceted eyes and two simple eyes. They are distinguished from others by the presence of wings, which, after a settling summer, the insect breaks off along a special seam. Wings (their 2 pairs) are large, but weak and insects more often “plan” than fly. Winged termites can mate and breed. Workers and soldiers are deprived of this opportunity, since they lack sex glands.

The winged "princes" and "princesses" can replace the dead king or queen. During the summer, they are far related by air currents and form colonies far from their native termite mound. At first, the “royal persons” cope with everything on their own - they dig a shelter, look after the laying of eggs, feed the larvae. But as soon as the "children" grow up and divide into soldiers and workers, they take care of the "parents".

The king and queen differ in size. The termite queen in evolutionarily advanced species is 10 times larger than working insects and is very similar to the uterus of ants. A huge number of eggs formed stretches the abdomen so much that the female herself cannot move. If necessary, dozens of working ants carry it into another chamber.

In primitive species, the queen has slightly more representatives of other castes. The termite queen lives 10-20 years. Scientists believe that special enzymes with antioxidant properties are responsible for this “longevity”.

The size of the "king" does not exceed the size of the working insects. He is constantly in the same cell with the queen and the main function of the male is the fertilization of the female.

Representatives of the rhinotermitid family have a frontal pore or fountain on their heads, from which anxiety pheromones are released from representatives of this termite family, informing the rest of the nest inhabitants about the danger. Some varieties of soldiers have the same time, but a drop of poison. “Butting” the head of the enemy, the defender applies poison to the surface, paralyzing the aggressor.


Different types of termites have their own ratio of workers and soldiers. Typically, the number of soldiers in the termite does not exceed 3%. But the network of species that have no soldiers at all or their share is 12-15%. Japanese scientists have found that, unlike other species of insects that have social organization, the X chromosome gene is responsible for dimorphism in the termite family. It is he who determines who the larva will become in the future. But this feature is characterized by advanced species. In primitive species, what the individual will become in the future is determined by nutrition and special pheromones.

Like any insect, termite has three pairs of running legs. The color of insects can vary even in one termite. Inside a complex system of moves, “multi-colored” insects are found - from whitish to dark brown.

Reproduction and development cycle

The termite queen mates with the king many times throughout her long life. In the summer season, workers make cracks in the walls through which only 2-3 insects can squeeze simultaneously. Travelers describe the flight of winged insects as termite "smoke" that rises above the structures.

"Princesses" attract their future kings with the secret of the abdominal glands. Then the pair “digs” a mink, the entrance to which is sealed. It is in such a "royal" chamber that pairing occurs. In lower species, the female lays hundreds, rarely thousands, of eggs per week.

But there are species whose queen fecundity is amazing. In odontothermis obesus, the female lays up to 86,000 eggs per day. The Queen of Macrotermis lays more than 10 million eggs per year. Termites in the photo surround the queen.

Queen of Termites

Workers feed and care for insects, drag eggs, collect secretion droplets from the abdomen, and soldiers protect them.

On the surface of the queen's body stands out a special secret rich in pheromones. It is eaten by working termites and carried to remote parts of the underground labyrinths. Some scholars believe that it is this secret that "unites" the family. Others believe that in this way control over the number of winged individuals is exercised - they do not appear until the colony matures, which happens after 2-3 years.

Workers and soldiers, inherently, underdeveloped individuals, "frozen" at the larval stage. They do not develop a reproductive system. The secret emitted by the queen does not allow all termites to turn into insects capable of breeding. When the queen is aging, the amount of secret decreases and, under certain conditions, working termites can begin to multiply.

From fertilized eggs appear larvae:

  • in workers, a soldier after molting, the larva becomes an adult insect,
  • after the second molt, the larva or nymph is divided into the next stage,
  • the nymph is larger than the larva and has wing rudiments on the thoracic segments,
  • before becoming an adult, the larva passes from 3 to 4 cycles of molting,
  • there are several ages and nymphs, at the end of transformations the insect grows long wings.
Termite workers

Working termites feed the larvae with the secret of their salivary glands or with the crushed spores of the mushrooms that they grow on their plantations. Termite breeding occurs as a result of fertilization, but in the absence of males, females can breed asexually (parthenogenetic). All born individuals are females.

If the queen suddenly dies, then winged females or nymphs can take on their role in reproduction. The latter retain all the features of immatureness. They are called nymphoids. Some types of termites in one nest may have several breeding pairs. This happens if the termite is very large. Scientists have found that the presence of working termites stimulates the laying of eggs.

It is also surprising that in certain conditions working termites can also multiply. To turn into a reproductive species, they need a long period of time - 30-40 days. They are called ergatoids. Scientists in the laboratory crossed ergatoids with nymphs and ergatoids. The percentage of castes in the offspring was different.

The table shows the results of the experiments:

FemalesMalesBreeding typeOffspring
nymphoids-parthenogenesis100% female nymphs
ergatoids-parthenogenesis50% died, 50% female nymphs
nymphoidsnymphoidssexual50% of female workers, 50% of male workers
nymphoidsergatoidssexual50% female nymphs, 50% male workers
ergatoidsnymphoidssexual¼ died, ¾ equally - nymph males, working males and females
ergatoidsergatoidssexualIn equal parts of females and males nymphs, females and males - workers

This diversity is due to the diploidy of male and female termites. While the colony develops, winged individuals do not form. Energy is spent on the production of workers who build, care for, clean.


The dry wood and wet-wood termite squad is characterized by the absence of adult working termites. Their role is played by pseudo-ergates. This group of termites is also called "false" workers. For a long time, the larvae molt, remaining working individuals. But it happens that after some time the pseudo-ergat becomes a soldier.

Endemism Edit

Like all social insects, termites live in colonies, the number of mature individuals in which can reach from several hundred to several million and consisting of castes. A typical colony consists of larvae (nymphs), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals. The construction of termites is a termite mound. Unlike ants, in the most evolutionarily advanced types of termites, caste membership is genetically determined. In more primitive species, the caste affiliation of an individual depends on how other termites feed it during the developmental period and which pheromones they secrete.

Reproductive individuals Edit

Among the reproductive individuals in the nest, the king and queen are distinguished. These are individuals that have already lost their wings and sometimes their eyes and perform a reproductive function in the nest. A queen who has reached maturity can lay several thousand eggs a day, turning into a kind of "egg factory." In this state, her breasts and especially the abdomen increase, making the queen several tens of times larger than any working termite (10 cm or more). Due to the giant abdomen, the queen loses the ability to move independently, therefore, when it becomes necessary to move her to another cell of the colony, hundreds of workers come together to transfer her. On the surface of the queen's body, special pheromones stand out, licked by workers, which contribute to the unification of the colony. In some species, these pheromones are so attractive to workers that they bite their mandibles into the queen's abdomen (however, this rarely leads to her death).

There is a king in the queen’s chamber, which is only slightly larger than a working termite. He continues to mate with the female throughout life, unlike, for example, ants, in which males die immediately after mating, and the sperm is stored inside the queen (uterus) in the ovary appendages.

The remaining reproductive individuals possess wings and serve to create new colonies. At a certain time of the year they fly out of the nest and mate in the air, after which the male and female, having descended to the ground, gnaw off their wings and together establish a new colony. In some termite species, immature reproductive individuals make up a podcast designed to replace the king and queen in case of their death. However, this is extremely rare.

Scientists at Yamaguchi University and Tottori University have come to the conclusion that termite queens Reticulitermes speratus they live longer than workers due to the increased activity of genes responsible for encoding antioxidant enzymes: catalase and the family of peroxyredoxins.

Workers Edit

Unlike ants, among the workers and soldiers of the termites are evenly divided between females and males. Working termites are engaged in foraging, food storage, care for offspring, construction and repair of the colony. Workers are the only caste capable of digesting cellulose thanks to special intestinal symbiont microorganisms. They are the ones who feed all the other termites. The colony also owes its impressive characteristics to the workers.

The walls of the colony are built from a combination of excrement, shredded wood and saliva. The nest provides places for cultivating fungal gardens, keeping eggs and young larvae, reproductive individuals, as well as an extensive network of ventilation tunnels that allow maintaining a practically constant microclimate inside the termite mound. In addition, sometimes there are also premises for termite-philes - animals that coexist with termites in symbiosis.

Soldiers Edit

Soldiers are a special caste of working individuals, which has anatomical and behavioral specializations, especially against the attack of ants. Many have jaws so enlarged that they are unable to eat on their own. Soldiers of tropical species of rhino termites have a special outgrowth on the head through which they shoot a protective liquid. At termites gnawing passages in a tree, soldiers usually have wide heads that allow them to block narrow tunnels and prevent further penetration of the enemy into the nest. When the integrity of the walls of the termite mound is broken and the situation is such that it requires the intervention of more than one soldier, the soldiers form a defensive formation resembling a phalanx and begin to randomly attack their victim, while the workers close up the hole. As a rule, the phalanx subsequently becomes a victim itself, since after the restoration of the termite wall, it loses the opportunity to return to the termite.

The protective frontal gland sprays protective secrets into the enemy through the excretory ducts in the head of the soldier’s caste (for nasal termites, this outlet is located in a special frontal pore in the specialized “nose” of the head capsule). The frontal gland is highly developed in the abdomen of soldiers Rhinotermit>.

The number of soldiers in the colony depends on the activity of the family and usually amounts to a few percent of the total population. In a minority of species, the share of soldiers is less than 3%. About 4-6% - in species of genera Cryptotermes (Nutting, 1970; Bouillon, 1970), Incisitermes (Harvey, 1934; Nutting, 1970), Kalotermes (Harris, 1954; Grasse and Noirot, 1958) and Glyptotermes (Danthanarayana and Fernando, 1970). About 1-9% in species of genera Neolermes (Nagin, 1972, Sen-Sarma and Mishra, 1972), Stolotermes (Morgan, 1959), Odontotermes (Josens, 1974), and Macrotermes (Pangga, 1936). According to Josens (1972, 1974) collected on the Ivory Coast (West Africa), the proportion of soldiers varies between 12-16% in species Bas>. Termite - xylophagus Cephalotermes (Termitinae) the number of soldiers is only 0.2%. The loss of the caste of soldiers is observed in two subfamilies of the termite family Termit>. In the subfamily Termitinae, only in 3 genera there is no caste of soldiers: Protohamitermes and Oriententermes (two close taxa from the Oriental region) and Invasitermes from Australia.

Competition Edit

Competition between the two colonies always leads to agonistic behavior in relations with each other, which leads to mass battles. These battles can cause death on both sides and, in some cases, an increase or loss of territory. In some species, even cemeteries are formed in the form of “cemetery pits” (“Cemetery pits”), where the bodies of dead termites are stored (buried).

Studies show that when termites collide with each other in foraging areas, some of them deliberately block passages to prevent other termites from entering. Dead termites from other colonies found in search tunnels lead to isolation of this section and, therefore, to the need to create new tunnels. A conflict between two competitors does not always occur. For example, although they can block each other, colonies Macrotermes bellicosus and Macrotermes subhyalinus not always aggressive towards each other. Suicidal behavior found in the species Coptotermes formosanus. Sometimes two different colonies C. formosanus can detect the same feed resource and enter into physical conflict. At the same time, some termites are densely squeezed into the foraging passages and die there, successfully blocking the tunnel and ending all agonistic interactions of the two colonies.

Among representatives of the reproductive caste, neotenic females (future uterus) can compete with each other to become the dominant queen when there are no primary oviparous individuals (queen, or female founder of the colony). This struggle between the young queens leads to the destruction of all of them, except for one queen, who, with the main male (king), assumes the main oviparous function of the colony.

Ants and termites can compete with each other for a nesting place. In particular, termite ants usually have a negative effect on Isoptera species nesting on trees.

Communication Edit

Most termites are blind, so their communication occurs mainly through chemical, mechanical and pheromone signals. These communication methods are used in many activities, including foraging, detecting castes, building nests, recognizing tribesmen, during mating flights, detecting and fighting enemies, and protecting nests. The most common way to communicate termites is through the contact of antennas (antennae). Several pheromones are known, including contact pheromones (which are transmitted when workers are involved in trophallaxis or grooming) and anxiety pheromones, trace pheromones, and genital ones. Anxiety pheromones and other protective chemicals are secreted from the frontal gland. Trace pheromones are secreted from the sternal gland, and sex pheromones are produced from two glandular sources: the sternal and tergal glands. When termites go out in search of food, they feed forages on the surface of the soil in columns through vegetation. The path can be identified by fecal deposits or recessed paths.Workers leave pheromones on these pathways, which are found by other tribesmen using olfactory receptors. Termites can also interact through mechanical signals, vibrations, and physical contact. These signals are often used to communicate individuals during an alarm (disturbing communication) or to evaluate a power source.

When termites build their nests, they use primarily an indirect connection. No single termite is responsible for any particular construction project. Individual termites react to a specific situation than they think, but at the group level they demonstrate a kind of collective consciousness. Concrete structures or other objects, such as granules of soil or pillars, cause termites to begin the construction process. Termite adds these objects to existing structures, and this behavior contributes to the construction behavior of other workers. The result is a self-organized process in which the information that guides termite activity is the result of environmental changes, rather than direct contact between individuals.

Termites can distinguish fellow tribesmen from strangers through chemical communication and intestinal symbionts: chemicals consisting of hydrocarbons released from the cuticle allow recognition of foreign termites. Each colony has its own special smell. This smell is the result of genetic and environmental factors, such as the termite diet and the composition of bacteria in the intestines of termites.

Nests Edit

Termite nests are called termite mounds and, as a rule, look like large mounds towering above the surface of the earth. Its main function is to protect termites from enemies, dryness and heat.

Termite mounds located in areas with heavy rainfall and continuous rainfall are at risk of erosion of their structure due to their clay base structure. Those nests that are made of cardboard (chewed plant and mainly wood pulp) can provide rain protection and can withstand heavy rainfall. Certain areas in termite mounds are used as force points in the event of a breach or breach of the nest. For example, colony Cubitermes narrow tunnels are being built, used as such force points, since the diameter of the tunnels is small enough to be blocked by soldiers. The high-security chamber, known as the “royal chamber”, contains the queen and king and is used as the last line of defense.

Genus species Macrotermesmay build the most complex structures in the insect world, building huge mounds. These termite mounds are one of the largest in the world, reaching heights of 8 to 9 meters, and consist of numerous passages, peaks and ridges. Another kind of termite, Amitermes mer>.

Some termites build mounds with a complex species-specific structure. For example, such as termites of the genus Amitermes (Amitermes mer>. Through experiments, it has been shown that this compass orientation helps thermoregulation. Orientation from north to south leads to the fact that the internal temperature of the embankment increases rapidly during the morning, avoiding overheating from the midday sun. Then the temperature remains at the required high termite level (on the graphic plateau) for the rest of the day until evening.

Description of appearance

Different types of termites have some differences related:

  • With body color.
  • Chitin-coated body.
  • With the presence of the thoracic region, although underdeveloped.
  • With a large head armed with a powerful oral apparatus.

Depending on the species, as well as social status, insects grow in length from 2 to 15 mm. Workers and soldiers have no eyes at all, or they have, but are underdeveloped. On the head you can see a thin antennae, as if connected by numerous segments. Their length depends on the age of the insect, so their age is easily recognized.

The size of insects also depends on the purpose of the individuals. Working individuals do not differ in large sizes, but soldiers can have a length of up to 2 centimeters. At the same time, they have a sufficiently large head and too powerful stings. Because of this, they cannot eat on their own and they are fed by working individuals. Some species differ in that a special outgrowth is formed on their head. This outgrowth serves to ensure that soldiers can shoot at their enemies with a special deterrent liquid.

Winged termites are armed with two pairs of faceted eyes and two simple eyes. After the individuals find acceptable habitats for themselves, they break off their wings at a certain seam. Although their wings are large, they are weak, not intended for long-distance flights, although in the presence of wind they can bring them quite far. Therefore, they do not fly as they plan. The winged individuals are endowed with the properties of reproduction, which is not given to working individuals and soldiers, since they do not have gonads.

It's important to know! Winged termites are able to take the place of the dead kings and queens. When they begin years, they can be carried by air currents over considerable distances. In this case, new termite mounds appear relatively far from the native termite mound. At the initial stages, the winged individuals themselves are engaged in the construction of a dwelling, look after the eggs, and then the larvae. After their “children” grow up and turn into working individuals and soldiers, they immediately begin to take up their duties and begin to take care of their “parents”.

The tsar, and especially the termite queen, are distinguished by their size, which is characteristic of more “advanced" species, in which the working individuals are 10 times smaller than the queen. In appearance, the queen of termites resembles the queen of ants. The queen is constantly engaged in the fact that she mates with the king and lays eggs. As a result of this, her abdomen is stretched so that she ceases to move independently. If necessary, then working termites simply transfer it to neighboring chambers.

In more primitive species, the queen, although it differs in size, is not significant. The termite queen can live for at least 10 years, thanks to special enzymes that have an antioxidant effect.

The termite king is the same size as the working individuals. Moreover, the king is always next to the queen. Its main task is the timely fertilization of the female.

Representatives of some families have special outgrowths on their heads, in the frontal part, on which anxiety ferromones stand out, which are captured by the rest of the family members.

Each species has its own ratio of workers and soldiers. As a rule, the number of soldiers is no more than 3 percent, although there are varieties of termites that have no soldiers at all or their number is at the level of about 15 percent or a little less. Thanks to Japanese scientists, it was found that X chromosomes are responsible for sexual dimorphism of such social insects. Due to the presence of this gene, either female or male individuals appear, as well as working individuals or soldiers. This feature is characteristic of more "advanced" species. As for the less “advanced” species, the social status of their larvae depends on special ferromones, as well as on the nature of their nutrition.

Termites, like any species of insects, have 3 pairs of limbs. The color of the species is different even within the same termite. Therefore, inside the termite mound, in its complex passages, you can find insects, both with dark and light coloring of the body.

The process of reproduction and the development cycle

Over the course of at least 10 years of life, the queen of termites mates with the king a huge number of times. With the advent of summer, working individuals make cracks in the walls of the termite mound, from which winged individuals subsequently fly out.

Future queens attract future kings with the secret of special glands. After this, the couple retires to a dug hole, where mating takes place. In some species, a female can lay several hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of eggs in a week.

There are species where the female lays more than 80 thousand eggs per day, as well as species whose female lays up to 10 million eggs per year. In the photo you can see the queen with termites.

Since the queen can neither move nor eat on her own, she is fed by working individuals, and soldiers guard.

Interesting to know! A special secret with pheromones is constantly collected on the body of the queen. They are fed by working insects, and also carry it through all the mazes. According to scientists, this secret unites the family. Scientists also believe that in this way they control the appearance of winged individuals. As a rule, they appear no earlier than after 2-3 years, when the colony ripens.

Soldiers and workers are underdeveloped larvae, so they do not have reproductive organs. At the same time, the secret emitted by the queen of termites does not allow all individuals to turn into winged insects that are ready for mating. When the queen is aging and she does not have enough secret for all termites, then the working individuals, after a while, also become sexually mature.

Larvae that are born pass through several stages of development. For example:

  • Workers and soldiers after molting become adult insects.
  • After the second molt, a division into nymphs occurs.
  • The nymph is somewhat larger, and on its thoracic segments you can see the beginnings of the wings.
  • As a rule, the larva passes through 3 or 4 stages of its development.
  • Nymphs also go through several stages of development. At the final stage, she has long wings.

Working individuals feed the larvae with special secretions, as well as with crushed spores of mushrooms, which they grow on their plantations inside the termite. The process of reproduction is associated with the process of fertilization, but in the absence of males, females are able to reproduce without them. After birth, all individuals are females.

Interesting to know! In the event of the unexpected death of the queen, winged individuals can take on her role, although they retain all the features of immatureness.

If the termite is large, then there can be several queens that constantly breed. According to scientists, the presence of working individuals stimulates the reproduction process.

Under certain conditions, working termites can also multiply, although they need at least a month to do this in order to turn into reproductive individuals. Such individuals are called ergatoids. In laboratory conditions, scientists had to cross ergatoids with nymphs and ergatoids. In this case, the result was offspring, where the percentage of castes differed.

The results of such experiments are summarized in the table:

FemalesMalesBreeding typeOffspring
nymphoids-parthenogenesis100% female nymphs
ergatoids-parthenogenesis50% died, 50% female nymphs
nymphoidsnymphoidssexual50% of female workers, 50% of male workers
nymphoidsergatoidssexual50% female nymphs, 50% male workers
ergatoidsnymphoidssexual¼ died, ¾ equally - nymph males, working males and females
ergatoidsergatoidssexualIn equal parts of females and males nymphs, females and males - workers

Research results indicate that winged individuals do not form until the colony is at a developmental stage. Therefore, all the energy spent on the reproduction of working insects that are engaged in the construction, care and collection of garbage, etc.

The termite detachment, which is a woody or moist-woody species, has no working termites, and their role is assigned to pseudo-ergats. This caste is also called "false" workers. The larvae molt for a long period, but remain working termites. It happens that after some time these individuals become soldiers.


Almost all types of termites feed on cellulose. In the digestive tract of working individuals, a special type of microorganism lives, which destroy cellulose. Therefore, only they are able to feed the queen, as well as the soldiers. The basis of the diet of these insects are dead trees and shrubs, fallen leaves and humus. Some species consume green spaces, damaging tea plantations and cereals.

At the same time, there is a progressive species "Termitidae", in which there are no microorganisms that allow the processing of cellulose. Therefore, scientists still do not know the mechanism of splitting of cellulose, acting in this species.

Termites, as you know, eat not only cellulose, since they grow a certain type of fungus in a termite mound. Pulling leaves and pieces of wood into their nests, they chop them and plant spores of mushrooms on them.

Mushrooms are destroyed by inedible lignin, after which food acquires other properties and is easily absorbed by termites. Therefore, termites with pleasure eat whole mushroom gardens, as well as other foods enriched with nutrients. Mushroom gardens are the main food source for larvae.

Interesting Facts! A certain A. Brem shared an interesting fact with his comrades. Once an Arab fell asleep near a termite, and when he woke up, it turned out that he was completely naked, since the termites ate all his clothes. In the 18th century, termites accidentally appeared on St. Helena, after which they completely ate the city of Jamestown.

Termites that are found in our territories do not differ in such gluttony. Moreover, it is believed that the damage from the Ashgabat earthquake would not have been so critical if termites had not damaged up to 25 percent of houses.

Termites are insects that are very sensitive to temperature conditions, humidity, and also to light. Therefore, they mainly eat wooden structures from the inside and rarely appear outside. In this regard, it always seems that tree trunks are safe and sound. Termite vital activity annually causes enormous damage to the economies of many countries. Different types of termites have different nests in shape.

Different types of nests

Termites are social insects that live in large families. Their nests can be located in the ground, in tree trunks, in the root system of trees, as well as in termite mounds, which differ in a rather complicated engineering design. It is known about the largest termite mound, which rose 13 meters above the ground. It is also known that in India, a dilapidated termite mound was discovered, the volumes of which are simply amazing, since an elephant could fit in it.

It is believed that the main part of the nest is underground. The design of the nest consists of tunnels, galleries, cameras, while only termites can orient in the nest. When natural enemies get inside the termite mound, they immediately lose direction and are attacked by soldiers. Everything is provided in the nest, therefore there are chambers where food is stored, where larvae are fed and where the queen lays eggs.

Interesting to know! For the queen with the king, the most protected, wet, warm and ventilated chamber is provided. The nests are located so that the rooms of the underworld are in the center. The queen in her cell is located in such a way that her head is directed to the east, and the belly to the west. Scientists tried to position the queen in a different way, but she always occupied the same position.

The building material for termite mounds is saliva, wood particles, clay and excrement. When this compound dries under natural conditions, it is difficult to destroy it with tools such as scrap or pickaxe. Where termites live, it is often possible to observe rainfall in the form of tropical showers. In order to resist the termite, all the walls are practically waterproof, and mushroom-shaped awnings and peaks are also used. In other words, a termite maker is a complex engineering design where everything is thought out to the smallest detail.

In addition to the fact that the termite is protected from showers, it has a complex ventilation system, so that it is possible to maintain temperature and humidity at a certain level. The microclimate inside the nest can be maintained in any weather and at any time of the day thanks to the activity of working individuals, which either narrow or expand the air ducts.

Water-bearing termites penetrate deep into the earth and extract moist soil. Termites that live on the Ivory Coast can penetrate to a depth of more than 10 meters, and termites that live in South Africa take water from a depth of up to 40 meters.

In the center of the termite mound, as a rule, is a "nursery", lined with soft material. There are larvae, while the "nursery" is located at an altitude of about 30 cm above ground level. On the sides of the "nursery" there are cameras where eggs are laid, and under the "nursery" is the queen’s own camera. At lower levels, connected by a whole system of tunnels and passages, there are pantries where food sources are stored, as well as whole plantations of mushrooms.

Some African species equip termite mounds with a very complex ventilation system. Thanks to this, fresh air is always present even at the lowest level. Australian termite mounds have a clear orientation from south to north, which prevents them from overheating.

In the event of the destruction of a part of the termite mound, numerous insects immediately begin to “pull up” to the crash site in order to close the gap as soon as possible.

All work on the restoration of the structure is carried out from the inside, while not a large number of soldiers are trying to protect the entrance from the outside from lizards, ants and other natural enemies. Working individuals quickly cope with the problem, while some of them remain outside in order to fully fulfill their duty.

Interesting to know! Quite a lot has been written about termites by such writers as S. Lemoy, Mine Read, J. Verne, etc. Moreover, information about them is not true. As a rule, termites are described as vicious insects with huge jaws that destroy everything in their path. In fact, this is not so and quite often in termite mounds; next to these insects are also “lodgers” - termite-phages, in the form of beetles, small animals and birds. The “tenants” find refuge in the termite mounds from enemies or from bad weather.

There are other works that tell about the incredible abilities of these living creatures. And this is not surprising, since the more you learn about termites, the more you start to think about them as fairly intelligent creatures, despite the fact that they do not differ in impressive size, but are tiny creatures.


It is hard to imagine that such small insects can build a multi-level dwelling, somewhat reminiscent of a huge city, with all the necessary communications. There are so many tunnels and passages in it that you can involuntarily get lost, especially since insects have practically no eyes or other special organs of vision in the dark.

It is believed that termites are still harmful insects, although they also play a role in the ecosystem of our planet. As a rule, most species are engaged in the destruction of non-living wood.

Power Features

The basis of the diet of many types of termites is cellulose. In the digestive system of working insects, a special kind of flagellate symbiont microorganisms lives, which can destroy cellulose. It is the working termites that feed the soldiers and the queen. Basically termites feed on dead branches and tree stumps, fallen leaves, humus. Some species of tropical termites feed on living plants, damaging tea bushes, cereals. But in one of the most progressive species - Termitidae, symbionts are absent and the mechanism of assimilation of cellulose in them is still unclear.

But it turned out that termites are eating not only cellulose. They plant mushroom gardens where they grow a special kind of mushroom. They drag pieces of wood and leaves into their nests. All thoroughly crushed and "planted" spores of mushrooms. This group of termites belongs to Macrotermitinae.

Mycelium of fungi destroys inedible lignin, transforming it into a more easily digestible component. Termites eat old parts of gardens, absorbing mycelium, spores and food enriched with various nutrients. For larvae, gardens are the main food provider.


The famous A. Brem told his comrades how an Arab, who had fallen asleep near a termite maker, woke up completely naked - termites ate all his clothes. At the end of the 18th century, termites were accidentally brought to St. Helena, which completely ate the city of Jamestown.

Termites that are found in the CIS are less "gluttonous." But the huge damage caused by the Ashgabat earthquake is due to the fact that 25% of the houses were corrupted by termites, which led to their collapse.

Due to the fact that termites are very sensitive to temperature, humidity and sunlight, they rarely appear on the surface, gnawing tree trunks, logs of the house from the inside, leaving it completely intact. The annual damage from termites is calculated in huge amounts. Different types of termites build different nests not only in form, but also in localization.