Termite queen

Termite queenThis section is about the termite queen and king. This melancholy pair, cabined for life in an oblong cell, bear the entire labour of reproduction.

The king-or let us call him the prince-consort-is shabby, undersized, puny, fearful, furtive, and always in hiding underneath the queen.

The queen displays the most prodigious abdominal development to be found in the world of insects, a world in which nature is liberal enough with monstrosities. She is merely a gigantic belly, crammed to bursting-point with eggs; a white dumpling from which a tiny head and corslet just manage to peep out, like a black pin stuck in a sausage of bread-crumbs.

Thousands of worshippers are incessantly licking and fondling the monster; but not, it would seem, quite disinterestedly, for the royal exudation appears to be so seductive that the little soldiers forming the bodyguard are hard put to it to prevent zealots from carrying off a morsel of the divine skin to satisfy their passion, or it may be their appetite. It is a sort of passive and very practical regicide for which no one is personally responsible.