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Termites are eusocial insects which are categorized at the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea. Termites were once classified in another sequence from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from near ancestors of cockroaches during the Jurassic or Triassic.
About 3,106 species are currently described, using a few 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 from the separate order Hymenoptera, termites divide labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female"workers" and"soldiers". All colonies have fertile men called"kings" and one or more fertile females known as"queens". Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.
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Termites are among the most prosperous groups of insects on Earth, colonising many landmasses except Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies using many million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with a few queens allegedly living around 30 to 50 years.
Colonies are called superorganisms since the termites form a part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself. .
Termites are a delicacy in the diet of several human civilizations and are employed in many traditional medicines. Several hundred species are economically significant as pests that can cause considerable damage to buildings, plants, 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 comes from the Greek words iso (equivalent ) 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 term termes ("woodworm, white ant"), modified from the influence of Latin terere ("to rub, wear, erode") from the earlier word tarmes.
The external appearance of this giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis is indicative of the close relationship between termites and cockroaches.
Termites were previously put in the order Isoptera. As early as 1934 suggestions were made 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 comparable morphological characteristics between a number of termites and Cryptocercus nymphs.7 In 2008 DNA analysis from 16S rRNA sequences8 affirmed the position of termites being nested within the evolutionary tree containing the order Blattodea, which included the cockroaches.910 The cockroach genus Cryptocercus shares the strongest phylogenetical similarity with termites and is considered to be a sister-group to termites.1112 Termites and Cryptocercus share similar morphological and societal features: for example, most cockroaches do not display societal characteristics, but Cryptocercus takes good care of its own young and displays other social behavior such as trophallaxis and allogrooming.13 Termites are regarded as the descendants of the genus Cryptocercus.914 Some researchers have suggested that a more conservative measure of retaining the termites since the Termitoidae, an epifamily within the cockroach click site sequence, which preserves the classification basics of termites at family level and below.15 Termites have long been approved to be closely associated with cockroaches and mantids, and they are categorized in precisely the 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 these insects, they likely originated earlier in the Jurassic or Triassic.181920 Further evidence of a Jurassic origin would be that the assumption that the extinct Fruitafossor consumed termites, judging from its morphological similarity to modern termite-eating mammals.21 The oldest termite nest discovered is believed to be from the Upper Cretaceous in West Texas, in which the oldest known faecal pellets were also discovered.22 Claims that termites emerged earlier have confronted controversy.
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Weesner indicated the Mastotermitidae termites may return to the Late Permian, 251 million years ago,23 and fossil wings that have a close resemblance to the wings of Mastotermes of their Mastotermitidae, the toughest living termite, have been discovered in the Permian layers in Kansas.24 It is even possible that the first termites emerged during the Carboniferous.25 visit the website 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., however, 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 attributes which 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 which is because of convergent evolution2930 with termites being the first social insects to evolve a caste system more than 100 million years ago.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.