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The primitive giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) exhibits numerous cockroach-like characteristics that are not shared with other termites, such as laying its eggs in rafts and having anal lobes on the wings.
Although termites are sometimes called "white ants", they are actually not ants.
Termites are eusocial insects that are classified at the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the cockroach order Blattodea.
Termites were once classified in a separate order from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from close ancestors of cockroaches during the Jurassic or Triassic.
The oldest unambiguous termite fossils date to the early Cretaceous, but given the diversity of Cretaceous termites and early fossil records showing mutualism between microorganisms and these insects, they likely originated earlier in the Jurassic or Triassic.
Termites and Cryptocercus share similar morphological and social features: for example, most cockroaches do not exhibit social characteristics, but Cryptocercus takes care of its young and exhibits other social behaviour such as trophallaxis and allogrooming.
Like ants and some bees and wasps from the separate order Hymenoptera, termites divide labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female "workers" and "soldiers".Termite nests were commonly known as terminarium or termitaria.has supported a hypothesis, originally suggested by Cleveland and colleagues in 1934, that these insects are most closely related to wood-eating cockroaches (genus Cryptocercus, the woodroach).All colonies have fertile males called "kings" and one or more fertile females called "queens".Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.