Spacer Spacer
I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Ants & Termites


Social insects of the family Formicidae and, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and a distinctive node-like structure that forms a slender waist.

Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies which may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. These larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens". The colonies are sometimes described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems, and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutualistic relationships.

Ant societies have division of labour, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study.


Homeowners live in fear of termites. These social insects feed on the cellulose in wood and wood by-products, including the structural lumber of buildings. Termites of the order Isoptera first appeared over 250 millions years ago. Termites, cockroaches, and mantids all descended from a common primitive ancestor, a cockroach-like insect that skittered around among the dinosaurs. The name Isoptera means equal wing; primary reproductive adults have two pairs of wings, equal in length.

Termites play a major role in decomposition on the planet. Their ability to digest cellulose (plant fibers) relies on a symbiotic relationship with microorganisms in their bodies. Termites acquire these microorganisms from other colony members by eating their fecal matter.

All members of the order share certain characteristics. They have pale, elongate bodies, and are sometimes called “white ants.” Reproductive individuals have two pairs of membranous wings, all of equal length. Termites shed their wings after mating. To consume fibrous plant matter, termites have chewing mouthparts. Their antennae are roughly the length of their heads.

The termite queen controls reproduction. However, in the termite world, the male reproductive or king, stays with the queen and continues to fertilize her eggs for life. Winged reproductives, called alates, swarm on warm days to find their mates. Successful pairings settle down and begin reproducing. Termites undergo simple metamorphosis.

Sterile termite workers perform the hard labor, building and maintaining the nest and caring for the young and the queen. Soldier termites defend the nest. In most species, the soldiers specialized defensive structures are found in the head region, making them true “muscleheads.”

For more information you can visit our website at