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Termites

Soldier termiteTermites are soft-bodied insects that feed on wood and other dead plant material. They live in colonies, mostly in tropical regions. Termites build large nests underground, in trees or in large mounds above the ground. They can be made of mud, wood, or faeces mixed with saliva, depending on the species of termite. Their nests help to keep the termites moist and cool. Inside each nest can be found at least one royal couple: a large king and even larger queen. Soldier termites protect the colony from attack by their greatest enemy: ants. Worker termites forage for food, feed the others and look after the young.


Eastern subterranean termites
Queen termite

King and queen

The king termite is larger than the workers, but he is dwarfed by the queen. She has a massive, swollen abdomen that measures up to 15 centimetres (6 inches) long. Lying in the royal chamber inside the nest, she produces 30,000 eggs a day. As she lays them, the workers carry them away to other chambers to be hatched out. The queen spends her entire life laying eggs.

There are about 2600 species of termite known, but there are probably many hundreds more as yet undiscovered.  

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