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Termites are eusocial insects that are categorized in the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea. Termites were once classified in another order from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from near ancestors of cockroaches during the Triassic.
About 3,106 species are currently described, using a couple hundred more left to be clarified. Although these insects are often called"white ants", they're not ants. .
Like ants and some bees and wasps in the distinct order Hymenoptera, termites split labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female"workers" and"soldiers". All colonies have fertile males called"kings" and one or more fertile females called"queens". Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, dirt, or animal dung.
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Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising most landmasses except Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies with many million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with a few queens reportedly living around 30 to 50 years.
Colonies are called superorganisms because the termites form a part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself. .
Termites are a delicacy in the diet of some human civilizations and are used in many traditional medicines. A couple hundred species are economically significant as pests which can cause considerable damage to buildings, crops, or plantation forests. Some species, like the West Indian drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis), are considered as invasive species. .
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The infraorder name Isoptera is derived from the Greek words iso (equal) and ptera (winged), which refers to the nearly equivalent size of their fore and hind wings.2"Termite" derives from the Latin and Late Latin word termes ("woodworm, white ant"), altered by the influence of Latin terere ("to rub, wear, erode") by the earlier word tarmes.
The external appearance of the giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis is suggestive of their intimate relationship between termites and cockroaches.
Termites were previously placed in the order Isoptera. As early as 1934 suggestions were made that they were closely linked to wood-eating cockroaches (genus Cryptocercus, the woodroach) based on the similarity of their symbiotic gut flagellates.6 In the 1960s additional evidence supporting that hypothesis emerged when F. A. McKittrick noted similar morphological traits between a number of termites and Cryptocercus nymphs.7 In 2008 DNA analysis from 16S rRNA sequences8 supported the position of termites being nested within the evolutionary tree containing the order Blattodea, which included that the cockroaches.910 The cockroach genus Cryptocercus stocks the strongest phylogenetical similarity with termites and is considered to be a sister-group to termites.1112 Termites and Cryptocercus i thought about this share similar morphological and societal features: for example, most cockroaches do not display social characteristics, but Cryptocercus takes good care of its young and displays other societal behaviour such as trophallaxis and allogrooming.13 Termites are regarded as the descendants of the genus Cryptocercus.914 Some investigators have suggested a more conservative step of retaining the termites since the Termitoidae, an epifamily within the cockroach sequence, which preserves the classification of termites in family level and below.15 Termites have long been approved click over here to be closely related to cockroaches and mantids, and they are categorized in the exact same superorder (Dictyoptera).1617.
The earliest unambiguous termite fossils date to the early Cretaceous, but given the diversity of Cretaceous termites and ancient fossil records showing mutualism between microorganisms and such insects, they likely originated before in the Jurassic or Triassic.181920 Further evidence of a Jurassic origin is that the assumption that the extinct Fruitafossor consumed termites, judging from the morphological similarity to modern termite-eating mammals.21 The earliest termite nest discovered is believed to be from the Upper Cretaceous in West Texas, where the earliest known faecal pellets were also discovered.22 Claims that footprints arose earlier have confronted controversy.
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Weesner indicated that the Mastotermitidae termites may go back to the Late Permian, 251 million years ago,23 and fossil wings which have a close resemblance to the wings of Mastotermes of the Mastotermitidae, the toughest living termite, have been discovered in the Permian layers in Kansas.24 it's even possible that the very first termites emerged during the Carboniferous.25 The folded wings of the fossil wood roach Pycnoblattina, arranged in a convex pattern between segments 1a and 2a, resemble those seen in Mastotermes, the only living insect with exactly the identical pattern.24 Krishna et al., though, consider that all of the Paleozoic and Triassic insects tentatively classified as termites are in fact unrelated to termites and needs to be excluded out of the Isoptera.26 The primitive giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) exhibits numerous cockroach-like characteristics that are not shared with other termites, such as laying its eggs in rafts and having anal lobes on the wings.27 Cryptocercidae and Isoptera are united in the clade Xylophagidae.28 Termites are sometimes called"white ants" but the only resemblance to the ants is due to their sociality that's because of convergent evolution2930 with termites being the first social insects to evolve a caste system more than 100 million years back.31 Termite genomes are generally relatively large compared to that of other insects; the first fully sequenced termite genome, of Zootermopsis nevadensis, that was published in the journal Nature Communications, consists of approximately 500Mb,32 while 2 subsequently released genomes, Macrotermes natalensis and Cryptotermes secundus, are considerably larger at around 1.3Gb.3330.