DTY Termite Management
A Caste of Characters
Termites' roles are critical to showing success


A caste of characters playing their roles to perfection, termites receive picks and pans. Whether biological recyclers in nature or property damagers within structures, these cellulose-consuming critters always stick to their script.

Caste from the Latin, castus, meaning pure, is essential to social insects. Various individuals of known appearance and behavior perform specific labors within the colony. Caste assignments are as workers, soldiers, and reproductives. Caste differences are permanent and not due to age. Of gradual metamorphosis, egg and pupal stages are colonial members, but not castes.

Caste members labor toward assignments of construction, temperature control, provisions, egg placement, brood care, and defense. For example, soldier termites have grossly enlarged head capsules to accommodate muscles, which move powerful mandibles to bite and dismember enemies.

Knowing the caste of characters allows understanding of the plot, which allows better control of the end of the story.

Caste Morphology Roles
Larvae Usually wingless and lack reproductive or soldier caste structures. Nymphs have wing pads. May develop into workers or soldiers. Nymphs may develop into reproductives
Workers No compound eyes or ocelli, no wings, and well-developed jaws. Nest construction, communication, cleaning, provisioning, and brood care.
Pseudergates Regressed nymphs. Found only in lower termites. May develop into secondary reproductive and soldiers.
Soldiers Enlarged head, mandibles, and head glands. Defense against invaders.
Primary reproductives Queens or males from alates (dealates after shed wings). Colony founders.

**Caste Structure of Termites Derived from Wilson. Please open on desktop to see full caste table.

Stuart Mitchell, D.O., is a board-certified family practitioner and entomologist who serves as technical editor for PMP magazine.

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