Termes fatalis

Physical characteristics: Kings and queens are brown and measure about 0.3 inches (8.5 millimeters), including wings. The soldiers are long and pale yellow. Their heads are straight-sided and have a small hornlike bump toward the front. They have long and slender jaws.

Geographic range: This species is found in northeastern South America, including Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and Brazil.

Habitat: This species lives in tropical forests.

Diet: The structure of their jaws suggests that they eat bits of decaying plants and soft, rotten wood.

Behavior and reproduction: The soldiers are thought to use their long jaws to anchor their bodies in the tunnel to block invasions by ants and other predators. Very little is known about their nesting behavior. They use their own waste to build their turret-like nests. This building material dries to form a dark, hard wall.

Nothing is known about their reproductive behavior.

Linnaeus's snapping termites and people: This species is the first termite ever to receive a formal scientific name.

Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened. ■

Linnaeus's snapping termites use their own waste to build their turret-like nests. This building material dries to form a dark, hard wall. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)
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