; class Insecta, subclass Pterygota)
Order of hemimetabolous insects, related to cockroaches, in which all species are social and polymorphic, with primary and secondary reproductives, soldiers, and workers. Nests (termitaria) may be cavities in the ground or wood, earth mounds, or carton constructions. Termites forage for plant material, using odour trails, and rely on gut-dwelling, symbiotic micro-organisms (Protozoa in lower termites, bacteria in Termitidae) for the digestion of cellulose. Anal trophallaxis distributes these symbionts, and pheromones involved in caste determination, among the colony members. There are about 2200 living species, most being restricted to the tropics.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.