1902 Encyclopedia > Ant > Termite Nests

(Part 14)


(C) Termites / White Ants (cont.)

Termite Nests

The nest of the Termites is known as a termitarium, the essential internal arrangement of which consists of a large number and series of chambers, connected by galleries and passages. Entrance to the nest is afforded by concealed roads and subterranean passages. A large hillock may be a compound termination, formed by and inhabited by different species; and certain kinds of Termites build their nests of smaller size, sometimes of the consistence of paper. Their structures may be attached to the branches of trees, or they may be entirely subterranean, or concealed under the bark or within the stems of trees. The latter species are those which destroy timber, furniture, and household objects.

White Ant (Termes bellicosus) - Gravid Female - image

Fig. 6 -- White Ant (Termes bellicosus) - Gravid Female

Within this curious home an equally curious community is found to reside. The king and queen represent the sexual part of the community, the true neuters or workers form the greater part of the ordinary individuals, and the soldiers and winged Termites complete the list of inmates. The royal cells, tenanted by the king and queen, exist in the inmost part of the nest, and are closely guarded by a retinue of workers. The king ant queen are wingless and much larger than the neuter ants. The queen Termite when within the royal cell is permanently gravid, the abdomen being immensely distended with eggs, which as they are produced, are seized upon by the workers, and conveyed to special cells prepared for their reception. The relations of the winged Termites to the other members of the nest long formeda subject of great difficulty to naturalists; but they appear to be males and females, which are ready to assume sexual relations, and to become the progenitors or kings and queens of new communities. The neuters are, accordingly, quite distinct from the sexual forms, and do not pass through any similar developmental phases, but differ from the others, even in the egg, as has been already mentioned. Occasionally a new termitarium may be may be found, in which a king and queen are absent, and which contains workers only. These, however, gradually prepare the nest for full completion, by bringing eggs into the cells from a neighboring termitarium, from which the due population of the colony will be in time produced.

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