The Termite Queen & King

The king and queen of the termites are amazing.

Termites are members of the order Isoptera as they are colony living animals that inhabit multiple dwellings whose rooms are known as galleries. They form these colonies either in wood or on the ground in a damp, rotten, dry or sound area. They are sometimes called "white ants, but this is not true. They are soft-bodied insects, wood-borers, and are not always white. They will have a variance in size as some might be one inch long and others might be only one-third of an inch long. There is an outer layer known as chitin on the large head. On the termite the jaws are large, prominent and edged with teeth on the inner side. There are sour alike long and narrow wings that they lose when they become mature. The tarsus or the ankle is usually four jointed.

There exists a caste system in the termite colonies. There are nymphs, mature workers, soldiers, winged reproductive adults and they are classified as subterranean. The colonies are ruled by a king and queen (the reproductive). These communities of termites can become very large and contain some members that are not able to reproduce. These termites have reproductive organs but they are sterile as their organs are not fully developed. These insects will provide the food, build and repair nests and care for the young among various other duties.

The kings and queens are the only sexually mature and active members of the community. The queen is in the only one usually that is fertile. She continuously supplies the community with new members. She is of larger size and has a large developed abdomen. Since the queen has an adult body that has a front part that bears legs and her addomen is so large she cannot do anything on her own. Her body has a tougher covering than the other termites and she is also darker in her color. The queen has a pair of compound eyes, and two pairs of large, membranous wings. There is a fracture line at the base of the wing as it arises from the thorax. At this fracture line the wings will break off after the nuptial flight. She will take a nuptial flight with the king and then begin forming a new colony. When she is not moving around are wings will be horizontal along her abdomen, even overlapping so that only one set of wings can be seen.



She has fully developed and functional gonads that allow her to lay the eggs. The process of physogastry is present when her abdomen increases in size to enormous proportions as she ages. The growth of her ovaries results in the over sizing of the abdomen in the queen. There is an elastic nature of membranes that will join the segments of her abdomen. There are termites on the back of the abdomen that are hard or sclerotized. She also has these hard and sclerotized segments on the front and these are called sternites. They will be in appearance as brown or black patches along her body. Naturally, the internal organs in her body will grow to larger proportions in the queen to keep her bodily functions in working order. She uses a protein-rich saliva that is necessary to produce eggs in series. She will give the workers a clear liquid secretion that flows continuously from her anus, mixed with secretions from her genital passages to cover the eggs when she lays them. Her abdominal wall moves all the time in a rather rhythmic contraction of waves. These contractions are assisting her blood to move through the abdomen. This movement allows her heart to have assistance.

The queen of a colony can lay up to 36,000 eggs in a 24 hour period. The works will take the eggs when they are laid and put them in a safe place. These eggs are not moved individually but in groups. Each egg is licked by a worker and he also licks the queen. This is a function that keeps the eggs and the queen clean.

There are workers around her who will bring her food so she has nutrition to reproduce and to live. She has a nucleus of working bringing her food and has an army of soldiers protecting her. They will have a liquid that is secreted over themselves. These soldiers will carry away the eggs to another area as she lays them. In the Isoptera family of termite's reproduction in all cases is only through fertilization They sometimes move her to another location and clean her.

The king is the fertile male of the community. He never lives the side of the queen. The king is smaller than the queen but also larger than the workers and the soldiers. His abdomen is not as large as hers but his head and thorax may be as larger as hers.

In the nest of termites there is a royal apartment. This apartment has openings that are too small for the reproductives to pass through and has thick walls. Sometimes when the queen gets too large in the abdomen area the workers will enlarge the cell until she is comfortable. The workers will move her to a new cell location if she does not have enough room in the present cell.

The king supplies the queen with the sperm necessary to fertilize the eggs. It will depend on the species of termites but usually there is copulation once or perhaps a few times in the life of the king and queen. The king can fertilize the queen even once time and then he is waited on for the rest of his life. If the queen is laying a very large number of eggs then the king may find it necessary to service her once a month. He stays in the royal apartment and is fed as is the queen but mostly a smaller amount than her. After copulation he will lose his two pairs of wings. Swarming is the process in which a number of winged individuals leave the nest and take wing and among them will be the royal couples that will found new colonies.

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