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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hospitalitermes

Hospitalitermes are lichen eating termites which of course also take in other plant materials. Because of their diet supported by a chemical defense system they are what entomologist would call free ranging from their above ground foraging for food. The morphological separation of Hospitalitermes from Lacesssititemes, another lichen harvesting genus that are also free ranging, are still not quite distinct. This mostly black or dark brown colored termites forages openly and are generally avoided by ants, the primary predators of termites. Their foraging columns may stretched for over a hundred meters from their nest and are mostly left undisturbed by ants.

This page list three species which I will in a future posting separate because there is a strong possibility that one at least is actually Laccessititermes. 

Hospitalitermes bicolor.
The soldier of a bi-color Hospitalitermes species.
The soldier of this bi-colored termite viewed from a different angle.
The soldier of this bi-colored termite viewed from back.

Hospitalitermes mass on the ground gather food. This picture shows only a small section of this termite openly foraging in an area of approximately 15 by 15 feet. 

A closer look at the marching column of termite workers.

The nest of Hospitalitermes on a tree trunk. The core of this tree has most probably been hollowed out by other termites. Most species of termites do not normally attack healthy trees but if a tree is somehow damaged or disease giving them access to its core (the middle or center of a tree which do not have living tissue) then most species will feed on it. Usually this attack is initiated by the larger termites species or those of the Formosan family.
 

Hospitalitermes sp1.




A species of Hospitalitermes - a worker.



The nasute armed soldier.

The mandibleless soldier. In termites weaponary chemical weapons though not directly lethal are far superior to mechanical ones.

Hospitalitermes sp4.
Lichen the Hospitalistermes primary food.
Here is a darker colored  worker of the same species shows her preference for white lichen.


The soldier.

Hospitalitermes climbing a forest tree for the lichen found closer to top of the canopy.

The massive columns of Hospitilitermes stretching over a hundred meters from their nest all the way up a tall tree.
massive columns of Hospitlitermes



Hospitalitermes sp3.

Another Hospitalitermes species in their nest. This species is slightly larger than the first species with a lighter body color. Hospitalitermes nest are always opened with workers and soldiers going in and out as well as in the nest perimeter.

Green Lichen.

White lichen.

See Also:
Hospitalitermes sp2


Taxonomy
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Uniramia
Class: Insecta
Order: Isoptera
Family: Nasutitermitidae
Subfamily: Nasutitermitinae
Genus: Hospitalitermes

Last Updated: 2012 07 12
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