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Termites

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KENYA WILDLIFES SAFARIS: TERMITES

The termites are a group of eusocial insects usually classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera. sometimes called “white ants”, though they are not closely related to true ants. Termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use a self-organised systems of activity guided by swarm intelligence to exploit food sources and environments that could not be available to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.termites divide labour among gender lines, produce overlapping generations and take care of young collectively. Worker termites undertake the labors of foraging, food storage, brood and nest maintenance, and some defense duties in certain species. Workers are the main caste in the colony for the digestion of cellulose in food and are the most likely to be found in infested wood.

The soldier caste has anatomical and behavioural specializations, providing strength and armour which are primarily useful against ant attack.termites undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with their freshly hatched young taking the form of tiny termites that grow without significant morphological changes. Termites are generally grouped according to their feeding behaviour. Thus, the commonly used general groupings are subterranean, soil-feeding, drywood, dampwood, and grass-eating. Termite workers build and maintain nests to house their colony. These are elaborate structures made using a combination of soil, mud, chewed wood/cellulose, saliva, and faeces. A nest has many functions such as to provide a protected living space and to collect water through condensation. Nests are commonly built underground, in large pieces of timber, inside fallen trees or atop living trees.

Some species build nests above-ground, and they can develop into mounds. Nests are commonly built underground, in large pieces of timber, inside fallen trees or atop living trees. Some species build nests above-ground, and they can develop into mounds. in tropical savannas the moundsalso known as “anthills” may be very large, with an extreme of 9 metres (30 ft) high . In many cultures, termites are used for food . Ecologically, termites are important in nutrient recycling, habitat creation, soil formation and quality and, particularly the winged reproductives, as food for countless predators. In addition, scorpions, lizards, snakes, small mammals, and birds live in abandoned or weathered mounds, and aardvarks dig substantial caves and burrows in them, which then become homes for larger animals such as hyenas and mongooses. So, when you see those moulds during your Kenyan safari, remember that a lot goes on insided..

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