Termites are eusocial insects that are clessifee'd at the taxonomic rank o infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea. Termites war ance clessified in a separate order frae cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that thay evolved frae close auncestors o cockroaches during the Jurassic or Triassic. Houever, the first termites possibly emerged during the Permian or even the Carboniferous. Aboot 3,106 species are currently descrived, wi a few hunder mair left tae be descrived. Awtho thir insects are eften cried white eemocks, thay are nae eemocks.
|Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus)|
Sodgers (reid-coloured heids)
Wirkers (pale-coloured heids)
Lik eemocks an some bees an wasps frae the separate order Hymenoptera, termites divide labour amang castes conseestin o sterile male an female "wirkers" an "sodgers". Aw colonies hae fertile males cried "keengs" an ane or mair fertile females cried "queens". Termites maistly feed on deid plant material an cellulose, generally in the form o wid, leaf litter, sile, or ainimal dung. Termites are major detritivores, pairteecularly in the subtropical an tropical regions, an thair recyclin o wid an plant matter is o considerable ecological importance.
Termites are amang the maist successfu groups o insects on Yird, colonisin maist laundmasses except for Antarctica. Thair colonies range in size frae a few hunder individuals tae enormous societies wi several million individuals. Termite queens hae the langest lifespan o ony insect in the warld, wi some queens reportitly livin up tae 30 tae 50 years. Unlik eemocks, which unnergang a complete metamorphosis, each individual termite gangs throu an incomplete metamorphosis that proceeds throu egg, nymph, an adult stages. Colonies are descrived as superorganisms acause the termites form part o a sel-regulatin entity: the colony itsel.
Termites are a delicacy in the diet o some human culturs an are uised in mony tradeetional medicines. Several hunder species are economically signeeficant as pests that can cause serious damage tae biggins, craps, or plantation forests. Some species, such as the Wast Indie drywid termite (Cryptotermes brevis), are regairdit as invasive species.
- Bignell, Roisin & Lo 2010, p. 2.