Family Rhinotermitidae - Subterranean Termites
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Blattodea (Cockroaches and Termites)
No Taxon (Epifamily Termitoidae - Termites)
Family Rhinotermitidae (Subterranean Termites)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Rhinotermitinae, Froggatt, 1897
Rhinotermitini, Desneux, 1904 (Tribe of Termitinae)(1)
Rhinotermitidae, Light 1921
Use to include the families Stylotermitidae and Serritermitidae as subfamilies Stylotermitinae and Serritermitinae
Explanation of Names
Rhinotermitidae, Froggatt 1897(1)
9 spp. in 4 genera in our area(2)
, ~320 spp. in 12 genera worldwide(3)
Can be differentiated from Archotermopsidae by the presence of occelli (imagoes) and can be differentiated from Kalotermitidae by the presence of a fontanelle (all castes). Additionally alates possess two darkened veins on the outer edge of the wing as opposed to the three found on Archotermopsidae and Kalotermitidae.
The forewing scale overlaps the hindwing scale (Except in Psammotermes
), as opposed to Termitidae, where the forewing scale is miniscule and does not overlap the hindwing scale.(1)
Rhinotermitidae can also be differentiated from Termitidae workers and soldiers and Kalotermitidae by the shape and dimensions of the pronotum. In Rhinotermitidae the pronotum is flat and crescent shaped, typically the width is less than or equal to the width of the head. In Kalotermitidae the pronotum width is equal to or larger than the width of the head and takes on a blocky shape. In Termitidae workers and soldiers the pronotum width is much smaller than the width of the head and is saddle shaped.
Rhinotermitidae is a cosmopolitan family, barring islands, it is possibly the most widely distributed termite family.(4)(5)
Rhinotermitidae typically nest within wood (dry or wet) and use diffuse soil networks to colonize new food sources and/or reside in.(2)
The reliance on wood as the primary nesting medium varies between genera. Rhinotermitidae are found in a wide variety of climates and environments, such as various temperate, subtropical, tropical, both forest and desert.(5)
Swarming varies from species to species, as well as active/preferred temperature.
Members of the family feed on cellulose with the help of symbiotic gut protists. Although the primary source of cellulose for most species is wood, they are not confined to it. Indeed a select few species do not feed strictly or at all on wood, and many that do feed on wood can subsist on other cellulose rich materials such as cardboard, cotton and paper.
Imagoes found in dead wood and must feed before laying eggs.
As a general rule, the more diverged a species is, the more earlier the differentiation of developmental pathways. Thus the developmental pathways of Rhinotermitidae tend to be less flexible than those of more basal families (i.e Kalotermitidae and Archotermopsidae) but more flexible than Termitidae. The degree of flexibility and the expression of diverged traits differ from subfamily to subfamily. Workers are considered pseudergates (or pseudoworkers) due to the lack of a true worker caste.(6)
Rhinotermitidae mainly exhibit ergatoid and brachypterous neotenics, with very few exceptions. The tendency to form neotenics, and through which developmental pathway varies from subfamily, species and even population. Neotenics may replace and/or coexist with primary reproductives or other neotenics.(7)
Many members of this family are significant economic pests,(2)
and a few species (i.e in Coptotermes
) demonstrate invasive tendencies.
Species of our fauna:
Coptotermes Wasmann 1896: formosanus Shiraki 1909
Heterotermes Froggatt 1897: aureus (Snyder 1920) [Colorado and Gila deserts of so. AZ & CA into Baja; occasionally in Houston, TX]
Prorhinotermes Silvestri 1909: simplex (Hagen 1858) se. FL & West Indies
Reticulitermes Holmgren 1913: arenicola* Goellner 1931, flavipes (Kollar 1837), hageni Banks 1920, hesperus Banks 1920, tibialis Banks 1920, virginicus (Banks 1907)
Šobotník, J., and Dahlsjo, C. 2017. Reference Module in Life Sciences.
|6.||Sexual Castes and Reproductive Strategies in Termites|
Noirot C. 1990. Engels W. (eds) Social Insects. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.