Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Sponsor
The Coleopterists Society supports BugGuide.

Calendar
Upcoming Events

Discussion of 2018 gathering

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

TaxonomyBrowse
Info
ImagesLinksBooksData

Epifamily Termitoidae - Termites

Termites Immature Reproductive Subterranean Termite Winged termite? - Zootermopsis found something looked like a nest in carpet and picked this up next to the hole. - Reticulitermes hesperus dampwood  termite workers - Zootermopsis laticeps Termite? Termites from Guerneville CA
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Blattodea (Cockroaches and Termites)
Superfamily Blattoidea
No Taxon Epifamily Termitoidae - Termites
Other Common Names
White Ants(1) (though they are unrelated to ants)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
=Isoptera
used to be treated as a separate order Isoptera
Explanation of Names
Termite: from New Latin termes (genitive termit-), from Classical Latin tarmes 'a wood-worm', prob. derived from terere 'to rub'(1)
Numbers
44 spp. in 18 genera of 4 families in our area(2), ~2,900 spp. in almost 300 genera of 9 families worldwide(3)
Identification
Families of our fauna:
Kalotermitidae (Drywood Termites) -- large termites that remain concealed within dry wood
Rhinotermitidae (Subterranean Termites) -- the most commonly encountered
Termitidae (Higher Termites) --the most speciose family, less frequently encountered in NA
Termopsidae (Rottenwood Termites) --3 spp. in a single genus in our area
Range
worldwide, except cold climates; maximum diversity is equatorial (half of that diversity falls between 18°N and 30°S)(4)
Habitat
Live in colonies, although the size of the colonies can range from very small (within a single twig) to very large (city blocks).
Kalotermitidae leave very little evidence of their existence inside wood. Infestations in homes are typically identified by the repeated accumulation of dry powder (frass) on surfaces under their cryptic tunnel openings.

Rhinotermitidae include species that are the most destructive to wooden structures, although most species in this family will not consume the dry, preserved wood used in construction. They generally nest in the soil and construct tubes of dirt and frass to travel from the nest to wood sources. The tubes protect them from drying out and from predators, and can run along surfaces in any direction, or even straight through the air.

Termitidae are less often seen near human habitation; their diversity increases towards warmer regions. They are responsible for the amazing termite mounds and other structures seen in other parts of the world. Many species cover their food with frass to protect themselves while they consume the matieral.

Termopsidae are behaviorally primitive, with most species unable to live outside the wood in which the colony was started. They colonize wood on advanced stages of decay and tend to be very moist.
Food
Dead plant material, in our area mostly wood. Symbiotic bacteria and/or protozoans assist in digesting the cellulose.
Life Cycle
All the termites are eusocial. Unlike other eusocial groups (e.g. ants, Apidae, Vespidae) termites do not have haplodiploid genetics, and both males and females maintain the colony. In addition to the primary reproductive castes (Kings and Queens), and sterile Worker caste, many species also produce a Soldier Caste. Soldiers are not merely larger workers, as is seen in the ants. Their head capsules are uniquely designed for defending the colonies, with various species having different designs, depending on the greatest threats for that species. Most Soldiers cannot feed themselves, and instead rely on Workers to feed and groom them. Soldiers can be recognized by their darker head capsules, and their tendency to be near areas of disturbance.
Internet References