You don’t want termites in your house-they can destroy the structure of your home quickly. However, when you’re not dealing with them, termites are actually really interesting.
Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with termites, but you can learn more about them by reading this blog.
Read these 10 fascinating facts about termites.
1. Termites Don’t Sleep
Termites are busy bugs. With all the tunneling, burrowing, and nest building to do, termites work 24/7.
Though it seems impossible, they survive without rest for one or two years, which is their average life span.
2. Termites Are Ancient
Though individual termites don’t live long, as a species, they’ve been around for ages. Termites are closely related to cockroaches. Both insects descended from a common ancestor that lived about 300 million years ago, before dinosaurs walked the earth. Termites as a species emerged during the Cretaceous period, about 130 million years ago.
3. Termites Are Ecologically Important
When they aren’t eating through people’s homes, termites are actually useful bugs. They help decompose plants by eating tough fibers like wood, which breaks the plant
matter down and returns it to the soil, making the dirt more fertile for new growth. Termites also aerate the ground they tunnel through, and the added oxygen encourages new growth.
4. Most Termites Are Blind
Except for the kings and queens of the colony, most termites don’t have functional eyes. They don’t need to-they spend their entire lives underground.
5. Termites Communicate With Scents and Vibrations
A termite colony has its own complex social order, and the members work together to ensure the colony’s survival. To signal where food is, termites leave a scent trail for other termites to follow. When something dangerous is approaching the colony, termites that spot it will hit their heads on the walls of the colonythe vibrations will warn other termites to be on guard or to come help fight.
6. Termite Colonies Are Founded by a King and Queen
Most termites are born blind and wingless. However, some termites have functioning eyes and wings. They are the only termites that reach sexual maturity, and when it’s time for them to mate, they swarm outside their colonies to find another termite to pair off with.
A mated male and female termite pair will then look for a place to find a new colony. When they find a good spot, they shed their wings and begin reproducing. The king will help look after the eggs the queen lays, at least until some of their children have grown up enough to help out around the colony.
7. Queens Lay Millions of Eggs
Queens may lay as many as 30,000 eggs in just one day, and queens can live for possibly more than 10 years, if the conditions are right. In 10 years, at 30,000 eggs a day, one termite queen will lay 109,500,000 eggs.
The termite queen does nothing else after she has mated and begun the colony. She will stay in her chamber for the rest of her life, be fed and groomed by her mate and her children, and lay eggs to keep the colony going.
8. Some People Eat Queen Termites
Queen termites are considerably bigger than other termites. In Singapore, they’re considered a delicacythey can be served in many ways, including live or preserved in rice wine.
9. Worker Termites Take Care of Business
Inside the colony, each termite has a job to do. Some termites tend the queen, some look after the termite eggs and larvae, many go look for food, and many work to build the colony’s nest.
Those that perform these essential functions are called worker termites. They can be either male or female, unlike the members of beehives, where all the workers are female. They form the majority of the colony’s members. If a colony forms in your home, these worker termites are the ones that cause the damage to the wood in your house’s structure.
10. Soldier Termites Protect the Colony
Solider termites look different from workers-they have large mandibles to fight off intruders or predators (the most common problems for termite colonies are ant colonies).
Soldiers guard the colony and go out with the workers on foraging expeditions. Because their heads are large, they sometimes use them to block tunnels that lead to the nest so intruders can’t get in, or they plug holes in the tunnels with their heads until the workers can repair them.
Soldiers aren’t as common as workers. They make up maybe 15 percent of the colony. Like the workers, they can be male or female.
Termites may be interesting, but you don’t want them in your home. They can cause expensive, dangerous damage to your house in short amounts of time by chewing through your wooden structures. If you suspect you have termites, call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management immediately. Contact us and we’ll promptly investigate, assess, and treat the problem so your home stays safe.