The Termite Social Structure
When it comes to insect caste systems, one particular specie always comes to mind—bees. Everyone knows what a queen bee is; her role, her purpose, etc. But did you know that caste systems are particularly prevalent in other kinds of insects too? And lo and behold, the list includes termites. While on the outside we normally wouldn’t care if such a system exists for their kind for we just want to get rid of them asap. But knowing the roles of each kind of termite can actually help eliminate them further and faster.
Royalty for termites include a King and a Queen. They are practically the reproductive pair for a termite colony. A queen can produce and lay 2, 000 eggs daily. So if you ever wonder why there’s such an abundance of termites, that’s your answer. The King and the Queen also look different from the rest of the colony. They have darker and tougher skins and are the only kind of termites that have eyes. Another fun fact, they are the monogamous kind.
Soldier Termites protecting the colony's nest.
They are the termites that can also reproduce albeit in a much smaller scale compared to The Royals. They are essentially a back-up system in case anything happens to their king and queen. And also unlike royalties, Secondary Termites do not have wings or eyes.
As their name suggest, workers almost always comprise the entire colony. They essentially do all the hard work to keep the colony alive. From gathering food, building the nest, and even burying or disposing of dead members, they are the ones responsible for it. Due to the number of work they have to do, Workers are not able to fully mature and only live from one to two years. They are also the milky-white termites that humans usually encounter.
L-R: 1) Termites crawling on surface 2) Worker Termites seen feeding their Queen 3) A Soldier Termite crawling alongside a number of Worker Termite.
Smaller in numbers and usually rare in a termite colony, Soldiers exist to do one thing and one thing alone—protect and guard the nest. While this work can also be done by Worker termites, some colonies are able to breed this kind. They are mostly stationed at the entrance of the nest and have overdeveloped mandibles that are useful to attack any intruders. On the downside, despite having the largest teeth, they cannot eat by themselves and usually have Worker termites feed them.
Now that we know the kinds of termites in a colony, we can truly appreciate eliminating not only the termites we can see above ground but to be able to deeply penetrate the entire system most especially where reproduction is abundant.