A large, highly amorphous, genus which is almost certainly paraphyletic. A large number (> 20) of species, from Cameroon and Congo (Brazzaville) remain undescribed. There may be hundreds of undescribed species (Sands 1998). It nests predominantly underground, or within the mounds of other soil feeding termites. Only Astalotermes quietus produces an above ground structure: characteristic 'purse' nests consisting of small aggregates of soil-carton chambers 5-20 cm long. These structure are found attached to saplings, small shrubs and occasionally against the sides of trees. Their function is unknown, although they may be anti-predator refuges or launch pads for alates. Astalotermes species appear all to be group III feeders, in moderately humified soil. They are very common in soil pits dug for ecological work (Eggleton et al. 1995, 1996) Ruelle (1978) describes them as the commonest Apicotermitinae found in southern Africa, where they occur from dry savannas to mediterranean parts of Cape Province. Many of the constituent species are strongly autothysic.
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