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By Elizabeth Preston | November 21, 2014 7:58 amShare on twitterShare on bloggeShare on gmail
Even kings and queens that have six legs and live underground aren’t immune to royal machinations. In one Asian termite species, queens choose to shut their mates out of the picture when it’s time to breed a successor. They simply clone themselves to make new queens. To keep the king’s genes away, the queen makes special eggs that have no entrances for sperm—all their drawbridges are pulled up tight.
The lives of Reticulitermes speratus termites are worthy of an HBO series. The story starts when a new colony is founded by a single termite pair, the king and queen. They mate in the usual way and fill the colony with workers, their offspring. No one reproduces except for the royal pair. Everyone in this humble kingdom of dirt knows their places./.../