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Coptotermes gestroi colonies

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 several colonies of Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi) in vials for observation in a lab. (Photo courtesy of Reina Tong, Ph.D.)

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