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Unlike ants, which undergo a complete metamorphosis, each individual termite goes through an incomplete metamorphosis that proceeds through egg, nymph, and adult stages.Colonies are described as superorganisms because the termites form part of a self-regulating entity: the colony itself.Termite antennae have a number of functions such as the sensing of touch, taste, odours (including pheromones), heat and vibration.The three basic segments of a termite antenna include a scape, a pedicel (typically shorter than the scape), and the flagellum (all segments beyond the scape and pedicel). On alates, the wings are located at the mesothorax and metathorax.Although these insects are often called "white ants", they are not ants.Like ants and some bees and wasps from the separate order Hymenoptera, termites divide labour among castes consisting of sterile male and female "workers" and "soldiers".The diversity of termite species is low in North America and Europe (10 species known in Europe and 50 in North America), but is high in South America, where over 400 species are known.

The infraorder Isoptera is divided into the following clade and family groups, showing the subfamilies in their respective classification: Termites are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Termites are major detritivores, particularly in the subtropical and tropical regions, and their recycling of wood and plant matter is of considerable ecological importance.

Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth, colonising most landmasses except for Antarctica.

Ants belong to the family Formicidae within the order Hymenoptera.

The similarity of their social structure to that of termites is attributed to convergent evolution.

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