The Entomological Society of America prepares to renew their reference of insects’ names to keep up with many years of scientific records and genetic study which states that termites fall into Blattodea cockroach order.
A member of the institution’s insects’ names branch, Mike Merchant from Texas University, announced that the order of termites legally doesn’t exist anymore. Since 15th of February, the database of insects is being refined due to newly made amendments.
The downgrading of termites reminds him of Pluto being removed from the list of planets, admits Paul Eggleton, the representative of London’s Natural History Museum. Of course, he does not truly anticipate the same public’s attention, as well as myriads of voices expressing concern.
Between biologists, the questions about termites’ place in the natural world have been voiced at least since 1934. At that time, the scientists found out in termites’ entrails the same microbes that make possible the cockroaches’ wood digestion.
At the time researchers finally managed to use DNA to expand their studies in genealogy, Eggleton and two of his co-workers studied an extraordinary vast sampling of cockroaches’ species, to find out that termites are a part of their genealogical tree. The study that acquired the name “Death of an order” put termites on the tree beside a cockroach called Cryptocercus.
Cryptocerus lead similar lives as termites. The habitat is situated in the Appalachian Mountains, near Raleigh - the residence of a cockroach admirer Coby Schal, who carry out studies on insects in North Carolina State University.
Cryptocercus unions of monogamous roaches dig tunnels by consuming wood, and in these tunnels, they’re bringing up their children. The progeny eats their parents’ anal secretions, which gives them nourishment and the same wood microbes’ supply. It allows the cockroaches’ kids to make homes of their own when the time comes.
According to Schal, the evolution of roaches’ social life has upgraded through years of evolution, but that’s nothing compared to termites. The latter take heroic measures. Being eusocial, they have only a few pairs in their colonies participating in the reproduction process.
A couple of years had passed before the common names committee of American entomologists’ institution agreed on taking new discovering about termites into consideration. The meeting of its members was held in February, and the decision was made unanimously.
Whitney Cranshaw, a teacher in Colorado State University in Fort Collins, admits that he and his colleagues from the committee were reluctant to vote “yes” on the termites’ matter because they preferred to keep the status quo. As he says, it was more convenient with two freestanding orders, because for his students it was easier to keep in mind.
Nevertheless, Cranshaw and the others did what needed to be done.