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Most termites are Wingless Sterile Blind

  • Jan 7, 2020

Most termites are Wingless Sterile Blind

The most common subterranean termite is the worker caste. It is wingless, sterile and blind. It is about 5mm in length.

Queensland Deparment of Agriculture and Fisheries


Categories of Termites

  • dampwood
  • drywood
  • subterranean

Termite Colony

Termite Colonies

Termites are social insects, working and living together in groups (colonies). The different castes within a colony differ in body shape and behaviour. As mentioned above the most common caste is a worker that is wingless, sterile and blind.

Worker Termite


  • build the nest and galleries
  • tend the eggs and young
  • gather food
  • feed other castes incapable of feeding themselves

Soldier Termite


The soldier caste has a heavily armoured and pigmented head - they too are wingless, sterile and blind. The image above is is a mandibulate due to the promienent jaws, with the other common soldier being a nasute with a pronounced snout. Soldiers must be fed by the workers, becuase their mandibles are so modified or specialised.

Soldiers defend the colony against predators such as ants.

Worker and Soldier Termite
A Soldier Termite with Two Worker Termites

Alates - establish new colonies

After swarming at certain times of the year, alates (winged reproductive) shed their wings and each mated pair seeks out a suitable place to establish a new colony.

That is quite a system, designed to spread and flourish. Some subteranean queens are capable of producing 2000 eggs per day.


The Food of Termites

The food of termites includes wood and vegetable mertieral such as grasses and plant debris. Those species which feed on wood can digest cellulose with the aid of protozoan or bacteria micro-organisma in their gut tissue. The workers feed the soldiers, young nymphs and reproductives with partly digested food and as they do this the gut micro-organisms are passed on from the gut of the workers. This close association with the workers and other castes, together with their habit of grooming one another is exploited by products like Termidor HE which cannot be detected by termites.

Termites live in the dark. They build earthen tunnels from the nest to their food source although they can search for food in the open during humid nights.

Download Termite Colony Info Sheet

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