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Termites are eusocial insects that are categorized at the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea. Termites were once classified in a separate sequence from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from close ancestors of cockroaches during the Jurassic or Triassic.

Approximately 3,106 species are currently described, using a few hundred more left to be clarified. Although these insects are often called"white ants", they're not ants. .

Like ants and some bees and wasps in the separate purchase Hymenoptera, termites split labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female"workers" and"soldiers". All colonies have fertile men called"kings" and one or more fertile females known as"queens". Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the kind of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.



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Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising most landmasses except Antarctica. Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies using many million individuals. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with some queens reportedly living up to 30 to 50 decades.

Colonies are described as superorganisms since the termites form a part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself. .

Termites are a delicacy in the diet of some human cultures and are used in many traditional medicines. A couple hundred species are economically significant as pests which can cause considerable damage to buildings, plants, or plantation forests. Some species, such as the West Indian drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis), are considered as invasive species. .



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The infraorder name Isoptera comes from the Greek words iso (equivalent ) and ptera (winged), which describes the nearly equal size of the fore and hind wings.2"Termite" derives from the Latin and Late Latin term termes ("woodworm, white ant"), altered by the influence of Latin terere ("to rub, wear, erode") by the earlier word tarmes.

The external appearance of this giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis is indicative 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 related to wood-eating cockroaches (genus Cryptocercus, the woodroach) dependent on the similarity of the symbiotic gut flagellates.6 In the 1960s additional evidence supporting that hypothesis appeared when F. A. McKittrick noted comparable morphological characteristics between a number of 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 stocks 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 instance, most cockroaches do not exhibit societal characteristics, but Cryptocercus takes good care of its young and displays other social behavior like trophallaxis and allogrooming.13 Termites are regarded as the descendants of the genus Cryptocercus.914 Some researchers have suggested that a more conservative measure of retaining the termites since the Termitoidae, an epifamily within the cockroach sequence, which averts the classification of termites in family level and below.15 Termites have long been accepted to be closely related to cockroaches and mantids, and they're classified in precisely the same superorder (Dictyoptera).1617.

The earliest unambiguous termite fossils date to the early Cretaceous, but given the diversity of Cretaceous termites and early 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 is that the assumption that the extinct Fruitafossor consumed termites, judging from the morphological similarity to modern termite-eating mammals.21 The oldest termite nest detected is believed to be from the Upper Cretaceous in West Texas, in which the earliest known faecal pellets have been also discovered.22 Claims that footprints arose previously have confronted controversy.



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Weesner indicated that the Mastotermitidae termites may return to the late Permian, 251 million years ago,23 and fossil wings which have a close resemblance to the wings of Mastotermes of their Mastotermitidae, the most primitive living termite, have been discovered in the Permian layers in Kansas.24 it's even possible that the very 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 the identical pattern.24 Krishna et al., however, consider that each one of the Paleozoic and Triassic insects tentatively categorized as termites are in fact unrelated to termites and needs to be excluded out of the Isoptera.26 The crude giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) exhibits numerous cockroach-like attributes that are not shared with other termites, such as 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 known as"white ants" but the only resemblance to the ants is because of their sociality that's because of convergent evolution2930 with termites being the first social insects to evolve a caste system more than 100 million years ago.31 Termite genomes are generally relatively large compared to that of other insects; the first completely sequenced termite genome, of Zootermopsis nevadensis, that was published in the journal Nature Communications, consists of roughly 500Mb,32 while two subsequently released genomes, Macrotermes natalensis and Cryptotermes secundus, are considerably larger at around 1.3Gb.3330.

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