How Does A Termite Caste System Function?
Some insects are solitary and do not work well with other insects. Sometimes insects behave aggressively towards members of their own animal-family. Many insects are straight up cannibalistic, but there are some types of insects that behave in accordance with an advanced social structure. Insects that live within a cooperative community are known as eusocial insects. Termites are eusocial insects, and they are far more socially advanced than you may think.
Termites live according to a caste system. At the bottom of the termite caste system is the worker termite. Worker termites are reproductively immature, and cannot reproduce. The worker termites help locate food sources, build nests, and care for young termites, as well as many other activities.
Soldier termites are one step above worker termites according to the social hierarchy. Soldier termites, like workers, possess underdeveloped sexual organs, but they often have well formed mandibles that they use for combat.
The highest position within a termite’s social hierarchy belongs to the reproductives, or alates. Alates are winged termites that are born from the most mature termite colonies. These termites also swarm in warm weather. During these swarms male and female alates will partner up. After a male and female relationship has been formed, the alates will lose their wings and reproduce in order to form new colonies. The alate partners then become the kings and queens of new termite colonies.
Not all termite families are the same, and there are many different families of termites thriving in the United States. For example, subterranean termites are located on the eastern and western sides of the US, and these termites cause the most damage to peoples’ homes. Formosan termites are not native to the US, and they thrive within the state of Louisiana. Dry wood and damp wood termites are common to forestland within the United States. So if you find signs of termites in your home, then suspect subterranean termites.
Have you ever spotted termite damage on wood within a forest? Do you ever become worried about bringing termites into your home from the outdoors?