Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Termites (Isoptera)

  • Rudolf H. Scheffrahn
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_2400
Termites are small to medium-sized orthopteroid insects that are cryptic in habit. All species live in eusocial colonies and feed primarily on cellulose. Although referred to in older literature as “white ants,” termites are unrelated to ants. The name of the order is derived from the Greek words “iso” (equal) and “ptero” (wing) that describe the similar length and shape of both the fore and hind wings of the reproductive alates. Mature colonies are composed of task-specific castes that typically include one or more pairs of reproductives, about 0–25% soldiers, and a majority of immature or sterile workers. During part of the year, colonies may also contain some maturing or fully winged reproductives (alates, imagos) destined to leave their colony in brief, but often intense, dispersal flights. The order Isoptera is divided into seven families. The family Rhinotermitidae is divided into seven small and closely allied subfamilies and the Termitidae into four large and diverse...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf H. Scheffrahn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FloridaFt. LauderdaleUSA