Each termite colony is sub-divided into various types of termites. Just like a human family, every termite serves a role, and has a place in the home. All together the termite castes make up a family where each family member performs a specific role that contributes to the well-being of the colony.
Termite Roles and Responsibilities
King and Queen – there are King and Queen termites at the center of every termite colony. The queen of the colony is responsible for reproducing and maintaing the colony’s population. She is kept very busy laying eggs.
Eggs – termite eggs are hatched and tended to by worker termites. Every single egg starts at the same point, but can grow to develop into any type of termite that the colony needs. For example, one egg can grow to be a worker termite, while another can grow to be a soldier termite. When the eggs hatch into nymphs the caste is decided: either worker, soldier, reproductive, or supplementary reproductive termites.
Worker termites are blind and wingless. Their main responsibility is for maintenance of the colony through building and repairing the nest. They also build the mud tunnels that allow termites to remain underground and hidden as they search for food sources. They also play a critical role in attending to the queen and the soldier termites. In fact, soldier termites would not be able to eat without the assistance of worker termites because soldier termites’ mandibles are too large to allow them the ability to eat. Worker termites make up the majority of the population of the colony. If you have seen infested wood, and termites in the infested wood, chances are you’ve been looking at the worker termites.
Soldier termites are sterile, wingless, as well as blind. They are there to protect the colony. When they sense a predator, they bang their heads against the tunnel of the colony, creating a vibration that runs through the colony and alerts worker termites to move further inside. This same “warning call” tells other soldier termites to run in the direction of the predator, so that the colony can be defended.
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