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Termites are eusocial insects that are classified 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 close ancestors of cockroaches during the Triassic.
About 3,106 species are currently clarified, with 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 from the distinct purchase Hymenoptera, termites split 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 chiefly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the kind of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.
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Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising many landmasses except Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a couple hundred individuals to enormous societies using several million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with a few queens reportedly living up to 30 to 50 years.
Colonies are described as superorganisms since the termites form 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 insects which can cause serious damage to buildings, crops, or plantation forests. Some species, such as 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 describes the nearly equal size of their fore and hind wings.2"Termite" derives from the Latin and Late Latin word termes ("woodworm, white ant"), modified from 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 indicative of their close 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 theory appeared 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 instance, most cockroaches do not display learn the facts here now societal attributes, but Cryptocercus takes good care of its own young and exhibits other social behaviour such as trophallaxis and allogrooming.13 Termites are thought to be 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 to be closely associated with cockroaches and mantids, and they are classified in the exact same superorder (Dictyoptera).1617.
The oldest unambiguous termite fossils date to the early Cretaceous, but given the diversity of Cretaceous termites and early fossil records showing mutualism between microorganisms and such insects, they probably originated before 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 the morphological similarity to modern termite-eating mammals.21 The oldest termite nest detected is thought to be from the Upper Cretaceous in West Texas, where read what he said the earliest known faecal pellets were also discovered.22 Claims that termites emerged earlier have faced 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 that have a close resemblance to the wings of Mastotermes of the Mastotermitidae, the toughest living termite, have been found 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 this fossil wood roach Pycnoblattina, arranged in a convex pattern between segments 1a and 2a, resemble those seen in Mastotermes, the only living insect with 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 crude giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) exhibits numerous cockroach-like read more characteristics 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 that's because of convergent evolution2930 with termites being the very first social insects to evolve a caste system more than 100 million years back.31 Termite genomes are generally comparatively large compared to that of other insects; the first completely sequenced termite genome, of Zootermopsis nevadensis, which was printed in the journal Nature Communications, consists of approximately 500Mb,32 while 2 subsequently published genomes, Macrotermes natalensis and Cryptotermes secundus, are considerably larger at around 1.3Gb.3330.