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The soldier caste has anatomical and behavioural specialisations, and their only real purpose is to defend the colony. Many soldiers have big heads with exceptionally modified powerful jaws so enlarged they cannot feed themselves. Instead, such as juveniles, they're fed by workers.5556 Fontanelles, simple holes in the forehead that exude defensive secretions, are a feature of the family Rhinotermitidae.57 Many species have been readily identified using the qualities of the soldiers' larger and darker head and massive mandibles.53 Among certain termites, soldiers may utilize their globular (phragmotic) heads to obstruct their narrow tunnels.58 Different sorts of soldiers include minor and major soldiers, and nasutes, that have a horn-like nozzle frontal projection (a nasus).53 These unique soldiers are able to spray noxious, sticky secretions containing diterpenes at their enemies.59 Nitrogen fixation plays an important role in nasute nutrition.60.
The reproductive caste of a mature colony includes a prosperous female and male, known as the queen and king.61 The queen of this colony is responsible for egg production for its colony. Unlike in ants, the king mates with her life.62 In some species, the abdomen of the queen swells up radically to increase fecundity, a characteristic known as physogastrism.61 Depending on the species, the queen begins producing reproductive winged alates at a certain period of year, and enormous swarms emerge in the colony when nuptial flight begins.
A young termite nymph. Nymphs first moult into employees, but others may farther moult to become soldiers alates.
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Termites are often compared with the social Hymenoptera (ants and various species of bees and wasps), but their differing evolutionary origins result in major differences in life cycle. In the eusocial Hymenoptera, the employees are exclusively female. Men (drones) are haploid and develop from unfertilised eggs, while females (both employees and the queen) are both diploid and develop from fertilised eggs.
Depending on species, male and female workers may like it have different roles in a termite colony.63.
The entire life span of a termite begins with an egg, but is different from that of a bee or ant in that it goes through a developmental process called incomplete metamorphosis, with egg, nymph and adult stages.64 Nymphs resemble little adults, and undergo a series of moults as they grow.
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The development of nymphs into adults can take months; the time frame depends on food availability, temperature, and the general population of the colony. Since nymphs are unable to feed themselves, employees must feed them, but employees also get involved in the social life of the colony and also have certain other tasks to achieve such as foraging, building or maintaining the nest or tending to the queen.5367 Pheromones govern the caste system in termite colonies, preventing all but a very few of those termites from becoming fertile queens.68.
Queens of the eusocial termite Reticulitermes speratus are effective at a long lifespan without sacrificing fecundity. These long-lived queens have a significantly lower level of oxidative damage, including oxidative DNA damage, than workers, soldiers and nymphs.69 The decreased degrees of damage appear to be due to increased catalase, an enzyme that protects against oxidative stress.69.
Termite alates only leave the colony when a nuptial flight occurs. Alate men and females pair up together and then land in search of a suitable place for a colony.70 A termite king and queen do not mate until they find such a spot. When they perform they excavate a chamber big enough for both, close up the entrance and move to partner.70 After mating, the set never go outdoors and spend the remainder of their lives in the nest.
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By way of example, alates in certain species appear during the day in summer while some emerge during winter.71 The nuptial flight may also begin at dusk, when the alates swarm around areas with a great deal of lights. The time when nuptial flight begins depends on the environmental conditions, the time of day, moisture, wind speed and precipitation.71 The number of termites in a colony also varies, with the larger species typically having 1001,000 individuals.
The queen only lays 1020 eggs in the very early phases of the colony, but lays as many as 1,000 a day when the colony is several years old.53 At adulthood, a main queen has a great capability to lay eggs. In some species, the adult queen includes a greatly distended abdomen and may create 40,000 eggs a day.72 Both mature ovaries may have some 2,000 ovarioles every.73 The abdomen increases the queen's body length to a number of times more than prior to mating and reduces her ability to move freely; attendant employees offer assistance.