Termites

Mastotermes

This is a type of termite unique to northern Australia. It is considered the most primitive form of termite alive. It is also called the giant northern termite or Darwin termite.

They can at first be mistaken for cockroaches because they have an abdomen that looks like that of the cockroach but a termite head and thorax. In addition to this their wings have designs similar to those found on the wings of cockroaches. They lay eggs in cases that are similar to those of the cockroach, as well.

They are large with round reddish brown heads. They have two stout mandibles with the left one having one well defined tooth and the right one having two well defined teeth. They build a nest, and when they get to 100,000 or more in population, there is a split with some going off to make sub nests. In highly conducive environments with an ample supply of water and food, they can quickly cause destruction and can be as many as millions in number.

They eat anything organic including plant material, leather, wood and debris. They can be dangerous agricultural pests capable of destroying a large harvest. It can literally bore into a living tree and feed of it till it is hollow, after which it will create a thriving colony within. It hosts the mixotricha paradoxa, which is a protozoa that can live in the body of the termite helping it to digest plant cellulose, and without it chances of survival would be nil.

mastotermes