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Cockroaches, Mantids and Termites: Sisters from Another Mother!

by | Sep 15, 2016 | 0 comments

The changes in recent research tell us that  the comparison of ants and termites is all wrong. The current scientific termite data shows that termites may look similar to ants, but in actuality they are decedents of a common ancestor of cockroaches and mantids. Ants derive from the bee and wasp lineage. Who would have thought that termites are actually social cockroaches that split off from the roach order more than130 million years ago!

early termite fossels
The earliest termite fossil known in existence dates back to over 130 million years ago and it resembles a mantis looking cockroach.


Praying Mantis

Winged termite

Winged termite

It has been concluded that the mantids, termites and
cockroaches together into the same sister group. Meaning they are hanging out together on the same branch of the insect family trree.

Close-up of a cockroach


What do these “Sisters” have in Common?

  • Mantids, termites and roaches are related because they’re all in the same Superorder – Dictyoptera.  And they have all descend from a common ancient ancestor.
  • There are some physiological and anatomical features that group these gals together. They include production of oothecae, an enlarged subgenital plate, a perforated cephalic tentorium, and a toothed proventriculus.
  • They have mouthparts for chewing, leathery wings and the ability of the female to carry eggs on the abdomen.
  • Termites and Wood roaches have symbiotic microbes in their gut that help in the digestion of wood (this is not the case for mantids).

The Science behind the discovery:

After conducting the most exhaustive genetic analyses yet, studying 107 different species of termites, cockroaches and mantises from across the globe, entomologist Paul Eggleton at the Natural History Museum in London and his colleagues have concluded that tThree Sistersermites are indeed a family of cockroaches.

The argument for Sisterhood.

If mantids and cockroaches are “Sisters”, and cockroaches and termites are “Sisters” doesn’t it stand that mantids and termites are sisters too? 

Boudreaux (1979), Thorne & Carpenter (1992), DeSalle et al. (1992), Kambhampati (1995), and Wheeler et al. (2001)   argue for a sister group relationship between mantids and cockroaches.

Hennig (1981), Kristensen (1995), Klass (1998), and Lo et al. (2000) favor a sister group relationshidictiopterap between termites and cockroaches.



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