The Online Library of Knowledge

LET'S EXPLORE Mini-beasts

How do termites live?

A termite mound in AustraliaA termite mound in AustraliaTermites live in large colonies. Each nest has a single king and queen. They are served by blind workers and soldiers, who feed and protect the colony. Termites live in hot climates. They eat wood and other dead plant material. For their nests, some termites build towering earth mounds several metres high. Inside are chambers used for growing fungus. The fungus, which helps the termites digest their food, grows well in the moist air inside the mound. There termites even build chimneys to let the heat escape.

Worker termiteWorker termite

Soldier termiteSoldier termite


Soldier termites are reared to protect the colony. They are bigger than workers and equipped with powerful biting jaws. Some kinds can squirt poison at their attackers. Soldiers rely on workers to feed them.

The royal chamber

Termites can be distinguished from ants by two features. Ants' waists are narrow where the thorax meets the abdomen, while those of termites are broad. Ants' antennae are "elbowed", while those of termites are straight.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile