Social Insects and castes of termites

SOCIAL INSECTS: are specialized group of insects of the same species which live together cooperatively in organized community known  as colonies.


1          They live together in colony

2          They show or display  division of labour

3          They show distinct castes

4          Members communicate with one another within the colonies.


Termites are usually found living together in large communities in nest which may be in tunnels in dead wood, chamber under the ground or anthill, or termitarium/termiteria.

All the various individuals in termite colony are grouped  into three castes as follow the reproductive are of three types. The reproductive are fertile and are able to reproduce. These are the (a) king (b) queen (c) and long winged reproductive.

The king

  1. The king is a reproductive individual that is fertile
  2. It has no wing

iii.        It is smaller than the queen

  1. The function or the king is to mate or fertilize the egg of the queen


  1. The queen is a reproductive female individual.
  2. It has a small head and small thorax with very big abdomen

iii.        The abdomen is large and swollen with eggs

  1. There is usually only a queen at a time in a colony
  2. The queen is the largest of all the castes

vi         The function of the queen  is a lay egg the long winged reproductive

1          They have wings

2          They are fertile i.e. able to reproduce

3          They can become new queen or king in  a new colony after a  nuptical or wedding flight


I           They soldiers are sterile i.e.  unable to reproduce

Ii          They are wingless

Iii         They have a big head with a pair of strong and hard mandibles

Iv         They defend the colony against enemies . The  solders are of two types (1) Madibulate soldiers termite defend  with their strong mandible .(11)Nasute soldier which kill with poison from its



I           The workers sterile and blind

Ii          They are wingless and white in colour

Iii         They form the largest population of the colony

Iv         They  possess well developed mouth parts.


  • They build and repair the termitarium
  • They provide food for other member of the colony e.g. large queen and soldier
  • They look after the nymphs (baby termiter)
  • They feed the nymph and the queen.

Watch National Geographic commentary on Termite Caste:

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