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Their colonies range in size from a few hundred individuals to enormous societies with several million individuals.Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with some queens reportedly living up to 30 to 50 years.
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".
Approximately 1.1 million active termite mounds can be found in the northern Kruger National Park alone.
There are three ecological groups of termites: dampwood, drywood and subterranean.
Termites are a delicacy in the diet of some human cultures and are used in many traditional medicines.
Several hundred species are economically significant as pests that can cause serious damage to buildings, crops, or plantation forests.
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).
Ants belong to the family Formicidae within the order Hymenoptera.
The similarity of their social structure to that of termites is attributed to convergent evolution.
This earlier conclusion had been based on the similarity of the symbiotic gut flagellates in the wood-eating cockroaches to those in certain species of termites regarded as living fossils.
Other researchers advocate the more conservative measure of retaining the termites as the Termitoidae, an epifamily within the cockroach order, which preserves the classification of termites at family level and below.
Termite antennae have a number of functions such as the sensing of touch, taste, odours (including pheromones), heat and vibration.