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Coptotermes gestroi colonies in planar arenas

Overhead view of four flat square clear panels with black borders. Termite colonies are visible through the clear windows of the panels, which are clamped to a backing panel with black binder clips.

Termites’ wood-heavy diet offers little nitrogen, a critical nutrient for growth and reproduction. But their exoskeletons are nitrogen rich, and new research shows that eating shed exoskeletons after molting is a core strategy for recycling nitrogen throughout the termite colony and boosting the queen’s egg-laying. Shown here are four colonies of Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi) in "planar arenas" for observation in a lab. (Photo courtesy of Reina Tong, Ph.D.)

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