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(John Obermeyer, Purdue University)
Common Name: Termite

Order: Isoptera

Family: Rhinotermitidae

Pest Status: Termites can be very serious pests of homes and other buildings because they feed on wood.

Appearance: Termites are small, white, tan, or black insects. The name Isoptera means "equal wing" and refers to the fact that in the adult stage, all four wings are of the same length.

Life Cycle: Termites are social insects with three castes (reproductives, soldiers, and workers) each with separate functions in the colony. The reproductives (alates, de-alates, queen, and king) are responsible for producing large numbers of offspring. The workers and soldiers are sterile, wingless, and blind. The workers build the nest, forage for food, and care for the young. The soldiers defend the colony from intruders.

Where to Collect: Termites are found in tree stumps, woodpiles, decaying organic matter, and rotting wood in buildings. Because they are soft-bodied, they should be preserved in alcohol.