Termite TriviaDr. Jim Fredericks
Sunday, March 16, 2014
What You Didn’t Know About These Tenacious Pests
Termites are every
homeowner’s nightmare. They not only eat through the wood in walls
and the foundation but also are difficult to detect. However, there
is much more to termites than you may think. Here are just a few
fascinating facts about these saw-toothed, silent property
Not always underground
Colonies of termites are difficult to detect because most
species build their colonies underground and move through
subterranean tunnels. However, there are some species such as Conehead
termites, found in Florida, that forage over top of the ground,
similar to ants.
This allows these termites to spread easily and quickly if left
It is not recommended to follow the typical diet of a termite
colony. They consume wood, flooring, and even wallpaper non-stop,
24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To better put this in perspective, it is estimated that an
established subterranean termite colony could consume the amount of
wood equivalent to one cup of sawdust in as little as two hours.
Just imagine the damage that could be done over time if left
Although termite colonies can be made up of millions of
individuals, termites do not work alone. Termites are social
insects, and the activity of a colony is dictated by swarm
intelligence. This decentralized form of interaction means the
colony works as a single unit, with the needs of the group always
taking precedence over an individual.
With this system, colonies can take advantage of resources one
termite couldn’t by itself. It helps termite colonies be very
efficient at establishing themselves in a house they have
Termites have specialized jobs within the colony. These
different groups have specific features that help them perform
their job so the colony can grow. A typical termite colony consists
of workers, soldiers, nymphs and reproductive individuals.
Workers make up most of the colony. They are responsible for
foraging as well as maintaining the nest and the colony’s eggs.
Worker termites are most likely to be found in infested wood. Other
individuals serve as soldiers who protect the rest of the colony.
These soldiers have enlarged jaws that can block tunnels in case of
an attack by ants. Interestingly, many soldiers have jaws so large
that they cannot feed themselves.
Nymphs are young termites and, in some species, take on the
duties of worker termites.
One way in which termites differ from other social insects is
that a colony has a primary queen and king who mate for life.
However, a colony will also have a class of winged reproductive
individuals that can leave to start other colonies.
If you think you have a termite infestation or to learn how to
protect your home from termites, be sure to contact a licensed pest