Once biologists were able to use DNA to identify genealogical relationships, evidence quickly began to show that termites had evolved as a branch on the cockroach’s family tree.
It is true that various roaches have some form of minimal social life, but termites take socialization to an extreme. They’re eusocial, showing an advanced level of societal organization in which a single female (or caste) produces offspring and non-reproductive individuals care for the multitudes of young. An extreme example; The African mound-building termite (Macrotermes) colonies can grow to 3 million individuals with only one queen and one king.
To show how closely related roaches are to termites, the Cryptocercus (brown hooded) roaches live in termite-like colonies in the Appalachian Mountains. Monogamous pairs of these roaches eat tunnels in wood and raise young within the tunnels. The young feed on anal secretions from their parents, which provide both nutrition and starter doses of the wood-digesting gut microbes that will eventually enable the youngsters to eat their way into homes of their own.
Researchers have concluded that, technically, all termites are ‘wood feeding eusocial roaches,’ but not all cockroaches are termites. This new truth has caused an upheaval within the scientific community and now the Entomological Society of America has been forced to update its master list of insect names to reflect the astounding evidence that termites, once of the order Isoptera, now belong in the cockroach order, called Blattodea.
For those not of the scientific community, termites will continue to be called termites and cockroaches will still be called by names that I can’t repeat here!
Think about this;
If you call a pest control company to check out your house for termites, will your inspector write up a “Termite Report” or a “Cockroach Report. Confusing?