The nest growth of the neotropical mound-building termite, Cornitermes cumulans: a micromorphological analysis

J Insect Sci. 2011;11:122. doi: 10.1673/031.011.12201.


The nests of Cornitermes cumulans K. (Isoptera: Termitidae), a very common termite in South American grasslands, display notable morphological transformations during the development of the colony. Young colonies inhabit small subterranean nests that develop into large, conspicuous, epigean mounds, inhabited by very populous colonies. Those macromorphological transformations are accompanied by micromorphological changes occurring gradually in the nest walls. The micromorphological changes during nest development described in the present study expand on previous macromorphological descriptions by explaining the re-organization of the soil components during nest growth. In subterranean nests, walls are composed of piles of lensshaped aggregates of soil material, each one surrounded by a thin organic coating. As the nest grows, mound walls are constructed by disassembling this first lenticular structure and rearranging the materials in a new fabric, where sand grains are loosely distributed among soil microaggregates of organic matter and clay. This is also a temporary construction, because the walls of large nests are composed of a porous mass of sands densely cemented with organic matter and clay in the mound, and a compact mass of the same components in the floor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Argentina
  • Isoptera*
  • Nesting Behavior*
  • Soil


  • Soil