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Microcerotermes crassus

Microcerotermes crassus

     This is a small species of termite that feeds on fallen branches, leaf litter, and dead vegetation. They inhabit undisturbed places usually in open canopy deciduous forests, or at the edge of denser evergreen forests.

     The workers are 2 - 3 mm in size. There is also a soldier caste that is slightly larger and has long sickle-shaped mandibles. If the colony is attacked these soldiers congregate around the nest breach, and after biting their target they refuse to let go and in effect sacrifice themselves in defence of the colony.

     The alates are 5 mm in size, and all the local colonies will swarm at the same time over two or three days in the early rainy season. After flying the alates land and forming pairs, they then search out a suitable site to start a colony. This is usually in a piece of deadwood or deeply fissured bark, where they will construct a small sealed chamber. It takes about two months for the first workers to mature and then the colony will grow rapidly. As the colony grows the queen will increase in size and mature colonies, she will reach 2 cm in length.

     At first, they stay in the wood creating additional chambers as the colony grows, but after about two years they will start to construct a hard carton type mound. The colony will then grow rapidly and when mature their mound can be 30 - 45 cm across. These mounds are found both on the forest floor built around tree stumps and above the ground on the shady side of mature trees.

     We offer naturally formed pairs of alates for sale, which have been placed in test tubes with some tissue paper. However, occasionally we can also offer complete young nests which are about 2 - 3 years old and measure about 10 - 15 cm across. These will contain several thousand workers. They can simply be placed in a natural setup or carefully dissected to remove the termites, which can then be introduced to an artificial observation nest.

     Large mature colonies will breed quickly and small parts can be removed without any detrimental effect on the main colony, and these can be utilized as a nutritional food source for captive ants.


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