Pericapritermes

Pericapritermes is a genus of small termites in the Termitidae family. Originally there was just the genus Capritermes, but dozens of species are now recognized under Pericapritermes, distributed throughout the Orient, although originally they were once thought to be confined to the African continent. The soldiers are distinctive in having odd shaped, curved, and highly elongated mandibles with a very large head size relative to the body/abdomen size.

The various species of Pericapritermes can be hard to distinguish from each other as they are very similar in appearance, save for size differences. They build small subterranean nests which are simple in architecture, although there may be some species which can build nests within the nests of other termites, and whose walls are lined with their excrement.

Pericapritermes are mainly humus feeding termites (but there are some species that can feed on dead wood), foraging in the first 10-20 cm of soil. Colonies are small but numerous in ideal habitats such as equatorial rainforests, for example.

There are certain species which have been observed to build their nests within the walls of ant nests (although they don’t do it specifically), normally housing a very small colony. The termites do not coexist with the ants and will become their prey if the ants stumble across them, but nonetheless the two mortal enemies still share the same nesting space, at times separated by just a wall of their excrement! The small alates of some Pericapritermes species swarm in the daytime, after, and/or during light rain, and can be observed flying low near grass height.

This genus is very similar to Dicuspiditermes, but can be differentiated by the less steeply sloping front portion of the head capsule, and also by their nesting behavior. Currently, habitat loss poses a threat to the long term survival of many forest-dependent termite species.

Pericapritermes

Above – A species of Pericapritermes

Pericapritermes soldier

Above – A soldier of Pericapritermes

Pericapritermes soldiers

Above – Another view, of two soldiers.

Mandibles of Pericapritermes

Above – The elogated mandibles of Pericapritermes are designed to flick away approaching ants. Such is the force exerted, that the soldiers can literally flick themselves away if they attempt to snap at a hard object.

Pericapritermes workers

Above – The workers of a species of Pericapritermes, viewed up close.

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