Termite Facts – If you’ve ever had termites in your home or office, we’re sure you know what a colossal pain they can be. The worst part? Termites colonies can contain anywhere from a couple hundred to several million termites! And each of them eats through wooden building structures all day, every day. This makes them a force to be reckoned with when it comes to property destruction.
Over the years, we have learned many things about these critters – which we thought we would share with you in this post. Hopefully, some of these termite facts will also help you avoid termite infestations in your residential or commercial property.
10 Termite Facts
Termites are more closely related to cockroaches than ants
Even though termites look like ants, they’re more related to cockroaches. They’re sometimes called “social cockroaches”, and scientists marvel at their organizational skills. Their origin as a superorganism or highly evolved community has been traced back to roughly 300 million years ago. The word ‘termite’ itself can be traced back to 1781, and they’ve also been known as ‘wood ants’ or ‘white ants’ over the years.
Termites have colonized all the continents – except Antarctica
Termites are among the most successful groups of insects on Earth:
- Fifty species can be found in North America
- Only ten species are known in Europe
- Over 400 species exist in South America
- 1,000 termite species occur in Africa
- In Asia, there are 435 species, which are mainly distributed in China
- In Australia, all ecological groups of termites are endemic to the continent, with over 360 classified species
There are also two broad termite categories: ‘microtermes’ eat grass, and ‘macrotermes’ eat wood. The latter category are the ones that you need to watch out for in your building.
Termites work in colonies
A termite colony consists of nymphs (semi-mature termites), soldiers, workers, and a king and queen in charge of reproduction. The termite soldiers and workers are usually blind since they spend their lives in the dark.
The workers gather wood by chewing it and swallowing it. They take their fecal pellets and join them into a ball back at the termite mound. There is hard lignin in the wood which they can’t digest, so they take fungal spores from a fungus that only grows in the mound (called termitomyces) and plant it in their fecal pellets. The fungus digests their lignin-laced fecal matter, and they then eat the fungus.
Pretty revolting or amazing, depending on how much nature wows you (as well as where all of this is happening)!
The oldest termite mound can be found in Texas
The oldest termite nest discovered is believed to be in west Texas, where the oldest known fecal pellets were also discovered. In central Africa, scientists have found an abandoned termite mound that is more than 2200 years old. The deepest termite tunnel ever found was 30 meters deep.
This is great if you’re looking for help tunneling your way out of prison. Less great if you’re trying to keep your building’s foundations intact.
In Africa savannas, termite mounds can reach heights of up to 30 feet
In parts of South America, Africa, and Australia, some species of termites can build mounds up to 30 feet high. In some cases, termite mounds can take up to five years to build, and termites constantly repair damaged areas.
The termites maintain the temperature of the mound by having porous walls and chimneys which allow wind to clear out excess heat. Their metabolic heat keeps things warm during cold times; humidity is maintained by tunneling down to the water table in order to release water vapor into the termite colony.
Termites are a good source of protein and are considered a common food in Africa and parts of India and Indonesia
Termites have a bit of a nutty taste and because their body is rich in oil, very little or no additional oil is needed. They are best enjoyed when they are toasted or lightly fried until they are slightly crisp.
Because they contain many essential mineral nutrients, they provide food security for poor households. Africa leads the way when it comes to termite-eating continents.
The most commonly eaten insects in the world include caterpillars, termites, crickets, and palm weevils.
A medium-sized colony of termites (roughly 3 million) can eat one foot of a 2×4 piece of wood in only two days
The rate at which termites eat wood depends on many factors such as the species of termite, size of the colony, type of wood, climate, and location. Experts estimate that over a period of about five months, a group of around 60,000 termites can eat the equivalent of one foot of a 2×4 beam.
No matter how fast they eat, the pests can do serious damage to homes before residents are even aware of it. Ask yourself: do I want to offer up my building as food for a termite party?
A queen termite can be up to 100x the size of a worker termite and can lay more than 30,000 eggs in a single day
Termite queens can live for up to anywhere between 25 to 50 years. She has a good ten years of peak egg production during this time and is typically the oldest termite in the colony. When she dies, a new queen with the same reproductive pheromone capabilities will arise.
Next to the queen, the king is the most important member of the colony
The termite king’s responsibility is simply to mate with the queen and produce pheromones that keep all the other termites in order by limiting their reproductive abilities. A termite king will also spend his entire lifetime underground.
A king termite will only live for between 2 to 7 years – so a queen termite will enjoy several kings in her lifetime.
Termite soldiers are in charge of protecting the colony
A termite’s main enemy is the ant. Because of their large heads and mandibles, they’ll usually come out on top in a battle with an ant. They bang their bodies against the wall of the termite mound when they need to warn their fellow termites of an impending ant invasion.
Problems with Termites? Call in the Professionals
Don’t wait for an impending termite invasion to take action in preventing any wood-munching damage from being done to your property. If you suspect termites in your house, the best thing to do is to call in professionals immediately.
If you want to find out how you could be doing things to attract termites, read this blog post here. Whatever your pest control needs, let Pest Control Unlimited handle everything.
Our goal is to always provide our customers the best products and services or termite facts with competitive pricing. We cover all home and commercial pest maintenance areas from bed bug spray, mice extermination, tick spray, and beyond. Pest Control Unlimited works quickly and efficiently to solve your pest problems fast.
To find out more about how we can rid your home of pests, (or hear more termite facts!) visit our website or give us a call at (888) 649-9919.