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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Microtermes

Microtermes genus is characterised by small soldiers fairly similar in sizes to their workers but with tiny heads and mandibles. The pin size head of the soldiers with their tiny mandibles would seem to make them hardly effective against their main predators, ants. Possibly their defensive strategy is more to protect the tunnel passages from small ants such as Oligomyrmex and Pheidole. When their fungus comb chambers are breached they usually abandon it. That could account for the isolated distribution of these comb chambers.

Microtermes also tend to over produce fungus in areas where they have easy access to cellulose. In such cases it is quite common to see these comb sprouting with large mushroom size fungus.

Their nests are commonly found in the mound walls of the Macrotermes genus but not exclusively. It would appear they are opportunist when it comes to using existing earthened mound of other species for their nest. 

Microtermes pakistanicus are dimorphic in both the soldiers and workers castes. Akhtar & Hussain (1980) transferred Microtermes pakistanicus to the genus Ancistrotermes, from this discovery (aside from some morphological differentiation from the head of the soldiers). I will keep this label for this species until there is a clearer resolution. Typically the major soldiers of Microtermes pakistanicus are seldom found among the foragers, so sample not taken from the nest rarely reveal the major soldiers. In a similar case in Odontotermes genus, the minor workers are rarely found among the forages.

Microtermes pakistanicus (aka Ancistrotermes pakistanicus) major soldier and two minor soldiers.
Microtermes pakistanicus major soldier and two minor soldiers
Microtermes pakistanicus major soldier, minor soldier and minor workers.
Microtermes pakistanicus major soldier, minor soldier and minor worker

Microtermes pakistanicus major soldier and major worker.
Microtermes pakistanicus major soldier and major worker

Two minor soldiers of the small fungus growing termite Microtermes pakistanicus.
Microtermes pakistanicus


Two minor soldiers and a major worker of Microtermes pakistanicus.
Soldiers and major worker of Microtermes pakistanicus

A minor worker and a minor soldier of Microtermes pakistanicus.

Close up of a soldier of Microtermes pakistanicus.

A soldier and two workers of Microtermes termite.

The small compact fungus of Microtermes pakistanicus termite. The fungus very hard and compact and more primitive than those of Macrotermes carbonarius.

A major soldier and worker of the termite Microtermes.



Close up of a major soldier of Microtermes.




The delated reproductives.

The reproductives of Microtermes pakistanicus termites.

Tandem run of Microtermes pakistanicus alates.
Tandem run of Microtermes pakistanicus alates

Tandem run of Microtermes pakistanicus alates.
Tandem run of Microtermes pakistanicus alates

Microtermes obesi

Soldier of Microtermes obesi. The soldier caste of Microtermes obesi is monomophic while the worker caste is dimorphic.
A soldier of Microtermes obesi

Workers and soldiers of Microtermes obesi.
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Soldiers of Microtermes obesi.
Soldiers of Microtermes obesi




Taxonomy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Superorder: Dictyoptera 6970
Class: Insecta
Subclass: Pterygota 7496
Order: Isoptera 7499
Suborder: Fontanella
Subdivision: Longiprocta
Superfamily: Termitiodae 46569
Family: Termitidae 92738
Sub family: Macrotermitinae 62955
Genus: Microtermes 201585
Species: pakistanicus 232794
               obesi 229718


Last Updated: 2012 08 21
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