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Termites are eusocial insects that are classified in the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea. Termites were once classified in another sequence from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from close ancestors of cockroaches during the Jurassic or Triassic.
About 3,106 species are currently clarified, using a few hundred more left to be described. Although these insects are often called"white ants", they're not ants. .
Like ants and a few bees and wasps from the separate purchase Hymenoptera, termites divide labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female"employees" and"soldiers". All colonies have fertile men called"kings" and one or more fertile females known as"queens". Termites chiefly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, dirt, or animal dung.
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Termites are among the most prosperous groups of insects on Earth, colonising many landmasses except Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a couple hundred individuals to enormous societies with several million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with a few queens reportedly living around 30 to 50 years.
Colonies are called superorganisms since the termites form part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself. .
Termites are a delicacy in the diet of some human civilizations and are used in many traditional medicines. Several hundred species are economically significant as pests that can cause considerable damage to buildings, plants, or plantation forests. Some species, such as the West Indian drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis), are regarded as invasive species. .
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The infraorder name Isoptera is derived from the Greek words iso (equivalent ) and ptera (winged), which refers to the nearly equivalent size of the fore and hind wings.2"Termite" derives from the Latin and Late Latin term termes ("woodworm, white ant"), modified by the influence of Latin terere ("to rub, wear, erode") by the prior word tarmes.
The external appearance of the giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis is suggestive of the close relationship between termites and cockroaches.
Termites were previously placed in the order Isoptera. As early as 1934 suggestions were made that they were closely linked to wood-eating cockroaches (genus Cryptocercus, the woodroach) dependent on the similarity of their symbiotic gut flagellates.6 In the 1960s additional evidence supporting that hypothesis appeared when F. A. McKittrick noted comparable morphological characteristics between some termites and Cryptocercus nymphs.7 In 2008 DNA analysis from 16S rRNA sequences8 supported the position of termites being nested within the evolutionary tree containing the sequence Blattodea, which included that the cockroaches.910 The cockroach genus Cryptocercus shares the strongest phylogenetical similarity with termites and is considered to be a sister-group to termites.1112 Termites and Cryptocercus share similar morphological and social features: for example, most cockroaches do not exhibit societal characteristics, but Cryptocercus takes care of its own young and exhibits other social behaviour such as trophallaxis and allogrooming.13 Termites are regarded as the descendants of the genus Cryptocercus.914 Some researchers have suggested a more conservative measure of retaining the termites as the Termitoidae, an epifamily within the cockroach order, which preserves the classification of termites at family level and below.15 Termites have long been approved to be closely associated with cockroaches and mantids, and they're categorized in precisely the exact same superorder (Dictyoptera).1617.
The earliest unambiguous termite fossils date to the early Cretaceous, but given the diversity of Cretaceous termites and ancient fossil records showing mutualism between microorganisms and such insects, they likely originated earlier in the Jurassic or Triassic.181920 Further evidence of a Jurassic origin would be that the assumption that the extinct Fruitafossor consumed termites, judging from its morphological similarity to modern termite-eating mammals.21 The oldest termite nest detected is thought to be from the Upper Cretaceous in West Texas, in which the earliest known faecal pellets have been also discovered.22 Claims that termites emerged previously have faced controversy.
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Weesner indicated that the Mastotermitidae termites may go back to the Late Permian, 251 million years ago,23 and fossil wings which have a close resemblance to the wings of Mastotermes of the Mastotermitidae, the toughest living termite, have been found in the Permian layers in Kansas.24 it's even possible that the first termites emerged during the Carboniferous.25 The folded wings of this fossil wood roach Pycnoblattina, arranged in a convex pattern between segments 1a and 2a, resemble those seen in Mastotermes, the only living insect with exactly the same pattern.24 Krishna et al., however, consider that each one of the Paleozoic and Triassic insects tentatively classified as termites are in fact unrelated to termites and should be excluded out of the Isoptera.26 The crude giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) exhibits numerous cockroach-like characteristics which are not shared with other termites, like laying its eggs in rafts and having anal lobes on the wings.27 Cryptocercidae and Isoptera are united in the clade Xylophagidae.28 Termites are sometimes called"white ants" but the only resemblance to the ants is due to their sociality which is because of convergent evolution2930 with termites being the very first social insects to evolve a caste system more than 100 million years ago.31 Termite genomes are generally relatively large in Going Here comparison to that of other insects; the first completely sequenced termite genome, of Zootermopsis nevadensis, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, consists of approximately 500Mb,32 while 2 subsequently released genomes, Macrotermes natalensis and Cryptotermes secundus, are considerably larger at around 1.3Gb.3330.