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Coptotermes gestroi exuviae

Overhead view of a clear petri dish on a light gray background. Inside the dish are hundreds of tiny molted termite exoskeletons, appearing collectively almost as sand.

As part of a study examining how consuming molted exoskeltons contributes to nitrogen recycling in colonies of subterranean termites, researchers collected the exoskeltons (called “exuviae”) and either provisioned colonies with the exoskeltons or removed them nearly completely to observe the subsequent effects on colony growth and reproductive capacity of the queen and king. Shown here are exuviae of Asian subterranean termite (Coptotermes gestroi) collected in a petri dish. (Photo courtesy of Reina Tong, Ph.D.)

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