Termites are a group of eusocial insects that are widely accepted as the epifamily Termitoidae, of the cockroach order Blattodea. Similar to ants, certain bees and wasps, terminites use division of labour among various castes in order to conduct day to day activities. They also produce overlapping generations and take care of their young collectively.
Termites are detritivores, or detritus feeders, particularly in the subtropical and tropical regions, and their recycling of wood and other plant matter is of considerable ecological importance. They feed on dead plant material and trees, as well as dead parts of living trees, including wood and wood in the soil. About 10 percent of the estimated 4,000 species (about 2,600 taxonomically known) are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests.
Termites, as eusocial insects, live in colonies that may number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use decentralised, self organised systems of activity guided by swarm intelligence which exploit food sources and environments unavailable to any single insect acting alone. A typical colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.
The termite fauna of Trinidad, as expected of a continental island is primarily an extension of that of mainland South America. Tobago, which shares a shallow marine bank with Trinidad, also has a mainland fauna, albeit depauperate relative to the much larger island of Trinidad. As expected, the much smaller Bocas Islands and Little Tobago contain species subsets of their larger island or continental neighbours.
For a comprehensive listing of the termites in Trinidad and Tobago, please click here.
Scheffrahn, R.H., J. Krecek, B. Maharajh, J.A. Chase, J.R. Mangold & C.K. Starr. 2003. Termite fauna (Isoptera) of Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies. Occasional Papers of the Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies (12):33-38