Which Insects Keep Their King and Queen Prisoners?

The lowly, destructive termite has very little regard for royalty, and in termite colonies the king and queen are held prisoner.

termites keep prisoners

In most termite colonies, there are three classes, or castes, of insects. Scientists are not really certain how some termites develop into these three castes, but the millions of termites in each colony are divided up this way.

The worker caste has the most individuals in a colony. These termites do all the work: they make tunnels, build nests, search for food and water for the entire colony, and take care of the young when they hatch from eggs.

The soldier termites have only one job, to protect the colony from attack by the termite’s main enemy, the ant. These soldiers are otherwise completely helpless and must be fed and cleaned by the workers.

The third caste is the royal caste, the perfectly developed male and female who become the king and queen of the colony.

The termites’ nest is divided into many rooms and tunnels. These nests can be underground or above ground in mounds. In the middle of the nest is an enclosed cell where the king and queen are kept as prisoners while they reproduce.

Can you imagine, the nests that termites build in mounds above ground have been known to reach 20 feet in height.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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