Termite pictures – Longipeditermes longipes

Longipeditermes longipes is a single species forest dwelling nasute genus that is dark in color, and is often seen openly foraging for food on the floor of the tropical forests of Malaysia and Borneo. There is no other species in this genus; it is a monotypic genus. Their foraging columns may stretch for nearly 100 meters (330 feet), in which workers fan out from their nests in search of lichen, ascending trees and lianas to get to them, which they then chew into balls and transport back home in a seemingly endless procession.

Longipeditermes longipes are much easier to identify than other nasute termite species due to their dimorphic soldiers and long, pale colored legs, upon which their scientific name is based. The rest of their body is black-dark brown. Foraging occurs during the night to early afternoon.

The foraging columns are well guarded on the flanks by the soldiers although in truth, they have very few enemies. They and other black colored nasute termites are (very) frequently mistaken for ants. I think this may turn out to be an evolutionary advantage. Once foraging is done, when the number of returning workers start to thin out, I observe the soldiers perform a staggered rearguard action slowly withdrawing themselves and returning back to their nest, one by one.

Longipeditermes longipes

(Above) Termites of Longipeditermes longipes, a monotypic genus.

Longipeditermes longipes termite column

(Above) Workers carrying balls of chewed lichen marching in the middle.

Longipeditermes longipes foraging column

(Above) Another view of the foraging column.

Longipeditermes longipes workers

(Above) A closer view of the workers carrying collected food in their mouths. They have been observed helping each other to stack the food in their mandibles before they embark home to the nest.

Longipeditermes longipes soldiers

(Above) The major and minor soldiers guard the flanks of the foraging column.

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