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In the Mound – Termites

9 Apr
Termites and brood

Termite workers carry brood to safety in an opened mound.

Opened up this mound of termites in a cow pasture in Argentina.  The landowner there was extremely nice and showed us all around his property in our quest for fire ants.  In Argentina, where fire ants are so much less prevalent (albeit native), they hardly even know what you’re talking about.  The big pest species are the carpenter ants that make huge rock hard mounds everywhere that wreck the plows and cause holes that break the cows’ ankles.

Like ants, termites (order Isoptera) are social insects with a caste system in which individuals with different tasks express different body forms.  Termites have both a queen and a king, who may live as long as 20 years, an virtual infinity compared to the short-lived male and female workers and soldiers.  Workers forage or care for the eggs and larvae (the small white termites in the picture).  Soldiers have large jaws and extra thick ‘skulls’ to reinforce the head capsule against the power of the enlarged jaw muscles.  In the picture this is visible as darker heads from the reinforced exoskeleton.

Close up of termite workers in nest.

Close up of termite workers.