(subclass Pterygota, order Isoptera)
Diverse family of ‘higher’ termites which rely on symbiotic bacteria rather than Protozoa (as in all other termite families, the ‘lower’ termites) for the digestion of cellulose. Members of the African subfamily Macrotermitinae have an additional food source: a basidiomycete fungus which is cultivated on faecal pellets deposited in fungus gardens. Most Termitidae inhabit soil nests. The complex architecture of the large mounds of the Macrotermitinae ensures ventilation and regulation of the microclimate of the nest. There are five families, with about 1500 species, occurring world-wide but mainly in the tropics.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.