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

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

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

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



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The entire life cycle 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 little adults, and go through a series of moults as they develop.

The development of nymphs into adults can take months; the time frame depends on food availability, temperature, and the general population of the colony. Since nymphs are unable to feed themselves, employees must feed thembut workers also get involved in the social life of their colony and have certain other activities to accomplish 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.

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



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Termite alates only depart the colony when a nuptial flight takes place. Alate males 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 do, they excavate a chamber big enough for both, close up the entrance and proceed to mate.70 After mating, the pair never go outside and spend the remainder of their lives in the nest.

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For instance, alates in certain species appear during the daytime in summer while others emerge during the 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 varies, with the larger species normally having 1001,000 individuals.

The queen only lays 1020 eggs in the very early stages of the colony, but places as many as 1,000 per day when the colony is a few years old.53 At adulthood, a main queen has a fantastic capability to lay eggs. In some article source species, the mature queen has a greatly distended abdomen and might produce 40,000 eggs a day.72 The two mature ovaries may possess some 2,000 ovarioles each.73 The abdomen increases the queen's body length to several times more than before mating and reduces her ability to maneuver freely; attendant employees offer assistance. .

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



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Termites going through incomplete metamorphosis on the road to becoming alates type a subcaste in certain species of termite, functioning as address potential supplementary reproductives. These supplementary reproductives only mature into primary reproductives upon the death of a king or queen, or when the primary reproductives are separated out of the colony.6676 Supplementaries have the ability to replace a dead primary reproductive, and there may 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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