Isoptera

Giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis soldier, workers and reproductive nymph, from here.


Belongs within: Blattoidea.
Contains: Hodotermitidae, Termopsidae, Kalotermitidae, Rhinotermitidae, Macrotermitinae, Termitinae, Nasutitermitinae.

The Isoptera include the termites, social insects that feed on wood and other cellulose-rich plant material. Termites live in colonies with differentiated worker, soldier and reproductive castes, though in some families reproductive nymphs may take the place of workers. The giant northern termite Mastotermes darwiniensis is generally accepted as representing the sister group to all other living termites (Euisoptera), retaining plesiomorphic features such as five rather than four tarsal segments, and the presence of an large anal lobe in the hind wing of alates (Grimaldi & Engel 2005). The early Cretaceous 'cockroach' Sociala perlucida has been suggested by Vršanský (2010) to be the sister group of Euisoptera on the basis of potential synapomorphies such as the lack of crossveins in the wings, but this would require several features of mastotermitids and Euisoptera to be convergent.

Characters (from Grimaldi & Engel 2005): Eusocial, colonies divided into castes with alate reproductives, wingless soldiers and usually workers. Pronotum highly reduced in size. Wings (when present) dehiscent, shed along humeral or basal suture after nuptial flight. Male genitalia highly reduced and asymmetrical. Ootheca highly reduced or eggs laid singly.

<==Isoptera [Termitida]
    |  i. s.: Skatitermes H79
    |         Astalotermes quietus H79
    |--+--Cratomastotermitidae V10
    |  `--Mastotermitidae GE05
    |       |--Blattotermes GE05
    |       |--Miotermes GE05
    |       |--Spargotermes GE05
    |       |--Valditermes brenanae GE05
    |       `--Mastotermes Froggatt 1896 H42
    |            |--M. anglicus GE05
    |            |--M. darwiniensis Froggatt 1896 [incl. Termes errabundus Froggatt 1897] H42
    |            |--M. electrodominicus GE05
    |            |--M. electromexicus GE05
    |            `--M. sarthensis GE05
    `--+--Sociala Vršanský 2010 [Socialidae] V10
       |    `--*S. perlucida Vršanský 2010 V10
       `--Euisoptera V10
            |  i. s.: Cratokalotermes santanensis Bechly 2007 V10
            |--Melquartitermes myrrheus Engel, Grimaldi & Krishna 2007 V10
            `--+--Hodotermitidae GE05
               `--+--Termopsidae GE05
                  `--+--Kalotermitidae GE05
                     `--+--Serritermes M06 [Serritermitidae GE05, Serritermitinae]
                        |    `--S. serrifer M06
                        `--+--+--Archeorhinotermes [Archeorhinotermitinae] GE05
                           |  |    `--A. rossi GE05
                           |  `--+--Rhinotermitidae GE05
                           |     `--+--Parastylotermes GE05
                           |        `--Stylotermes GE05 [Stylotermitidae M06, Stylotermitinae]
                           |             `--S. fletcheri A50
                           `--Termitidae GE05
                                |  i. s.: Firmitermes GN54
                                |         Hermitermes silvestri ZS10
                                |--Macrotermitinae GE05
                                `--+--+--Termitinae GE05
                                   |  `--Nasutitermitinae GE05
                                   `--Apicotermitinae GE05
                                        |  i. s.: Coxotermes Grassé & Noirot 1954 GN54
                                        |           `--*C. boukokoensis Grassé & Noirot 1954 GN54
                                        |         Heimitermes Grassé & Noirot 1954 GN54
                                        |           `--*H. laticeps Grassé & Noirot 1954 GN54
                                        |--+--+--Hoplognathotermes A50
                                        |  |  |    |--H. furcatidens GN54
                                        |  |  |    `--H. furcatus A50
                                        |  |  `--Allognathotermes A50
                                        |  |       |--A. hypogeus GN54
                                        |  |       `--A. ivorensis Grassé & Noirot 1954 GN54
                                        |  |--Trichotermes villifrons A50, GN54
                                        |  `--+--Jugositermes tuberculatus A50, GN54
                                        |     `--Rostrotermes cornutus A50, GN54
                                        `--Apicotermes A50
                                             |--A. angustatus GN54
                                             |--A. arquieri [incl. A. uelensis Desneux 1952] GN54
                                             |--A. desneuxi H79
                                             |--A. gurgulifex H79
                                             |--A. lamani H79
                                             `--A. occultus GN54

*Type species of generic name indicated

REFERENCES

[A50] Ahmad, M. 1950. The phylogeny of termite genera based on imago-worker mandibles. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 95 (2): 37–86.

[GN54] Grassé, P.-P., & C. Noirot. 1954. Apicotermes arquieri (Isoptère): ses constructions, sa biologie. Considérations générales sur la sous-famille des Apicotermitinae nov. Annales des Sciences Naturelles—Zoologie et Biologie Animale, ser. 11, 16: 345–388.

[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

[H42] Hill, G. F. 1942. Termites (Isoptera) from the Australian Region (including Australia, New Guinea and islands south of the Equator between 140°E. longitude and 170°W. longitude). Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Melbourne.

[H79] Howse, P. E. 1979. The uniqueness of insect societies: aspects of defense and integration. In: Larwood, G., & B. R. Rosen (eds) Biology and Systematics of Colonial Organisms pp. 345–374. Academic Press: London.

[M06] Maiti, P. K. 2006. A taxonomic monograph on the world species of termites of the family Rhinotermitidae (Isoptera: Insecta). Memoirs of the Zoological Survey of India 20 (4): i–viii, 1–272.

[V10] Vršanský, P. 2010. Cockroach as the earliest eusocial animal. Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition) 84 (4): 793–808.

[ZS10] Zborowski, P. & R. Storey. 2010. A Field Guide to Insects in Australia. Reed New Holland: Sydney.

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