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The reproductive caste of a mature colony includes a fertile female and man, known as the queen and king.61 The queen of this colony is responsible for egg production for its colony. Unlike in ants, the king mates with her for life.62 In some species, the abdomen of this queen swells up dramatically to increase fecundity, a characteristic known as physogastrism.61 Depending on the species, the queen starts producing reproductive winged alates at a certain time of year, and huge swarms emerge from the colony when nuptial flight begins.



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A young termite nymph. Nymphs first moult into employees, but others may farther moult to become soldiers or alates.

Termites are often compared with all the social Hymenoptera (ants and various species of bees and wasps), but their differing evolutionary origins result in significant differences in life cycle. In the eusocial Hymenoptera, the workers are exclusively female. Males (drones) are haploid and develop from unfertilised eggs, while females (both workers and the queen) are diploid and develop from fertilised eggs.



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Depending on species, male and female workers may have different functions in a termite colony.63.

The entire life span of a termite begins with an egg, but is different from that of a bee or ant in that it goes through a developmental process called incomplete metamorphosis, with egg, nymph and adult phases.64 Nymphs resemble small adults, and undergo a series of moults as they grow.

The development of nymphs into adults can take months; the time period depends on food availability, temperature, and the general population of the colony. Since nymphs are unable to feed themselves, workers must feed thembut workers also take part in the social life of the colony and have certain different tasks to achieve like foraging, building or maintaining the nest or tending to the queen.5367 Pheromones govern the caste system in termite colonies, preventing all but a very few of the termites from becoming fertile queens.68.



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Queens of the eusocial termite Reticulitermes speratus are capable of a long lifespan without sacrificing fecundity. These long-lived queens have a significantly lower degree of oxidative damage, including oxidative DNA damage, than workers, soldiers and nymphs.69 The decreased levels of harm seem to be due to increased catalase, an enzyme that protects against oxidative stress.69.

Termite alates only leave the colony when a nuptial flight takes place. Alate men and females pair up together and then land in search of a suitable spot for a colony.70 A termite king and queen do not mate until they find such a place. When they perform , they excavate a room large enough for both, shut up the entrance and move to partner.70 After mating, the set never go outdoors and spend the remainder of their lives in the nest.

By way of example, alates in certain species emerge during the day in summer while some emerge during winter.71 The nuptial flight might also begin at dusk, when the alates swarm around regions with plenty of lights. The time when nuptial flight begins depends on the environmental conditions, the time of day, humidity, wind speed and precipitation.71 The number of termites in a colony also fluctuates, with the larger species normally having 1001,000 individuals.



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The queen only lays 1020 eggs in the very early stages of the colony, but places as many as 1,000 a day when the colony is several years old.53 At adulthood, a main queen has a great capacity to lay eggs. In some species, the adult queen includes a greatly distended abdomen and may create 40,000 eggs a day.72 Both adult ovaries may have some 2,000 ovarioles each.73 The abdomen increases the queen's body length to several times more than prior to click over here mating and reduces her ability to maneuver freely; attendant employees offer assistance. .



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The king grows only slightly bigger after initial mating and continues to mate with the queen for life (a termite queen can survive between 30 to 50 years); this is quite different from ant colonies, in which a queen mates once with the man (s) and stores the gametes for lifetime, as the male ants die shortly after mating.6267 If a queen is absent, a termite king produces pheromones which encourage the development of replacement termite queens.74 As the queen and king are monogamous, sperm competition does not occur.75.



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Termites going through incomplete metamorphosis on the path to becoming alates form a subcaste in certain species of termite, functioning as potential supplementary reproductives. These supplementary reproductives only grow into main reproductives upon the death of a king or queen, or when the primary reproductives are separated from the colony.6676 Supplementaries have the capacity to replace a deceased principal reproductivesystem, and there can also be more than just a single supplementary within a colony.53 Some queens have the ability to switch from sexual reproduction to asexual reproduction.

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