TERMITES

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TERMITES ; sometimes called white ants, from their mode of life. They belong, however, to a different order of insectsthe ncuroptera of Linneeus. They live in societies, often prodigiously numerous, and composed of three sorts of individuals, as with the bee and ant. The most numerous are the workers, which have a rounded head, and the abdomen sessile and clubshaped. Among these may be discovered, occasionally, individuals of the second sort, called soldiers, which are easily distinguished by the larger size of the head and jaws. Each colony contains but a single perfect male and female. At a certain season, the termites acquire four large equal wings: the form of the body is then somewhat changed, and the color becomes darker. They now fill the air in countless numbers, and serve as food for various animals, and even for man in some parts of the globe. The few pairs which escape, if discovered by some wandering workers of their own species, are protected by them, and found new colonies. The termites are the greatest pest of tropical climates : they destroy all articles of furniture made of wood, cloths, &c.; they enter the foundations of houses, and eat out the whole interior of the timbers, so that they may appear perfectly sound externally, while they will crumble under the slightest blow. An African species is celebrated for the edifices it rears, in the form of a sugarloaf, ten or twelve feet in height, and so solid that the wild cattle mount upon them without breaking through. Internally they are divided into numerous bailments, and have subterranean galleries connected with them, from the extremities of which the insects issue to commit depredations: when these structures are broken open, the soldiers fight with great fury, and bite every thing they meet with. Another species of the same country builds its nest among the branches of trees, sometimes at the height of sixty or eighty feet from the ground. We have one species in the U. States, which lives in small communities, chiefly in decayed trunks of trees.