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What are termites?

  First of all, we say a termite and not a termite as many make the mistake. There are thousands of different termite species classified into different families with two types of termites, the so-called "lower" and "upper" termites. These are isopters, this is what differentiates ants, that is to say that the sexual winged have 2 pairs of wings of identical sizes, unlike ants, which are not of identical sizes. Attention only the primary sexual insects have a pair of wing , the rest of the colony is wingless (without wing).

  They are among the insects living in colonies with different castes.

Differences between termite called "inferior" and "superior":

  There are around 30% of "lower" and therefore 70% of "higher" , the first are lignivorous and digest the wood thanks to associated microorganisms (symbionts), protozoa and symbiotic bacteria, the second is, when he, tropical and sub-tropical and have a humivorous diet (feeds on the humus of the soil).

In Europe and more particularly in metropolitan France , only termites called "inferior" will therefore interest us, nevertheless, in the DOM-TOM, there will be many more "superior" species.

  There are 6 families of "lower" termites, in France, there are to date only 2 of them:

Kolotermitidae (genus Kalotermes) : dry wood termites and Rhinotermitidae (genus Reticulitermes) : underground termites.

  Historically, the termite was called "white ant" because of its resemblance to an ant but completely whitish or yellowish or even translucent sometimes.

Differences between Kalotermes and Reticulitermes termites:

Kalotermes :

  The genus Kalotermes is present in the Mediterranean areas of Europe, America and Asia. In France, only one known species exists the Kalotermes flavicollis (called termite with "yellow neck" because of these black winged breeders with yellow neck). These are dry wood termites that are found mainly in firewood or on land in dead woods.

winged "yellow necked" (imago)
neotenics and soldiers

  The castes of the colony are different from the Reticulitermes. From an egg born a larva which will become a nymph which will moult into a neotenic, soldier or imago . The Kalotermes lives and changes its habitat every year by swarming imagos which can be male or female and formed a new colony.

  The soldier will defend the colony and the neotenic will take care of the life of the colony.

He has a colony life very different from Reticulitermes (see the paragraph on Reticulitermes) since he is nomadic unlike the other.

Reticulitermes :

  The genus Reticulitermes occurs naturally in the forests of the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere, USA, Europe and Asia. This genus is well known in France, because it is he who causes damage in homes.

It lives in a colony underground, that's why it's named, underground termite.

workers with some soldiers

  The colony lives in the ground in galleries often extended the size of district, here is the first difference with the Kalotermes. The second difference is at the level of the castes of the colony which begins with eggs which become larvae , these larvae will be able to become workers, nymphs and soldiers who will, depending on the situation, transform into sexual winged animals (imagos) or non-winged.

  For a normal colony life, all termites have a well-defined role , but if workers are cut from a colony and brought elsewhere, they can moult so that they can create a new colony.

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