Hints on keeping in captivity.
Termites are soft
bodied and don't have a thick strong
exoskeleton like ants, hence they can dry
out very quickly.
made with captive colonies they should have a
humidity level of between 80-90% in the nesting
chamber. This humid environment is very
important for the growth of the fungus garden.
humid environment should however be avoided
as this will create conditions that could
lead to the fungus garden becoming unmanageable.
Outside the nest in the foraging area the
humidity level should be lower - this will
create a humidity gradient which the termites
can utilize to ventilate their nesting chamber.
They will also require
a constant supply of water. In the wild during
times of drought they can be seen foraging
early in the morning - for the sole purpose
of collecting moisture from the morning dew.
Once a colony becomes established the
workers build a thick clay chamber to
protect the king and queen.
Temperature is also
very important and although they live in
areas where the winter night temperature
often falls to about 8-10 Centigrade, the
heat absorbed by the surrounding earth during
the day is slowly released at night and this
helps shield them from wide temperature fluctuations.
An average temperature of 23-25 C is recommended.
Lower temperatures can be tolerated for a
few days but you should try and avoid any
rise above 28 C - which has been reported
as being detrimental to their fungus garden.
A cross section of the queen's chamber
uniform triangular shape with a height of
The floor is notably perfectly level and
opposite curvature and angles almost identical.
Built by blind insects in the dark!
They should be provided with an assortment
of potential food so they can select
what they need. Dead leaves, mixed leaf litter,
very small twigs, even freshly cut grass
and other plant stems seem to be used. There
are also records of them utilizing paper
The fungus garden:
Some resources state
that the spores of the fungus garden are
carried in the gut of the alates and are
regurgitated to the first workers - thus
enabling them to initiate the new fungus
states that the workers pick up the required
spores shortly after they start foraging
in the wild.
As the information
about this seems a bit vague it would be
advisable to place a small amount of established
fungus garden in the foraging area - so the
first workers that go foraging can if required
collect the fungus spores.
Plaster nests can be used to start young
method which has had a degree of success
when raising colonies from alates is to keep
them in a plaster nest.
The nest should
consist of several different sized chambers
about a cm in depth and there should
be a small amount of moist earth scattered
in each chamber. The alates will use this
earth to seal themselves in one chamber.
This gives them a feeling of security
and helps them settle down.
As the first workers
mature they will break down the earthen
seal and start to utilize the additional
chambers. The nest chambers need not be very
deep at the early stages of colony foundation
as it will be some time before the female
alate starts to swell.
The earth addition
will also enable the termites to control
the inside environment to some degree as
they will use it to seal around the sides
of the chambers and reduce the size of the
entrance. They will however also use it to slowly construct a
covering over portions of the glass rendering
observation difficult - so you will need
to remove and clean the glass cover about
once a month if you want to maintain full
Another method that
can be used to cultivate more mature colonies
is the 'semi-natural environment'
- within an aquarium type set up. Here
a thick layer of soil can cover the base
of the aquarium and the surface landscaped
with plants, pieces of wood, bark etc.
Once the colony
has settled down and selected a place to
construct their fungus garden a part of the
soil covering can be removed and replaced
with a glass observation cover. An additional
wooden covering over the glass will ensure
the termites nesting area is kept dark.
In established colonies the queen becomes
a prolific egg laying machine.
The easiest and
cheapest way to obtain this species
is to purchase a pair of alates. These alates
are usually available for sale in June /
July. The main disadvantage of starting
a colony this way is that it can take a long
time to establish a reasonably sized colony.
Mature wild collected
colonies are also occasionally available.
These colonies are difficult to locate in
the wild and they have to be kept in
captivity by the vendor for several months
to ensure that they re-establish and are
viable - before being offered for sale. Hence
they are expensive, but obviously have the
advantage of giving you an instant colony.
This page will be
updated as and when more information becomes
Last updated on
the 19th January 2014.