Kings and Queens!
This is a picture of the departure of future kings and queens from a Termite hill. As the rainy season starts “winged alates” leave the Termite cast communities to meet with possible kings or queens from other Termite hills to form a new society.
Termite live in a cast society where every member gets “assigned” its role in life before birth. The workers and warrior Termites cannot reproduce. But here they fulfill one of their their major roles in life to ensure that the “reproductives” (or winged alates) can leave the community unharmed to procreate the species.
These winged Termites can only start reproducing once they found a partner and after they have dropped their wings. Once underground the females abdomen will swell to become a huge “egg-laying-machine”, also called the queen of the Termite community.
If one looks carefully at the center of the picture one can see a winged alate coming up through a hole in the ground (with its wings still tucked in).
The Thanda guests were most impressed with this “micro sighting”.
Enjoyed your termite essay and photo. Termites, though small, have a large presence in Africa. Thank you.