Termite Facts

Interesting Facts about Termite Biology & Behavior

This page includes interesting facts about termites, including their biology, behavior, ability to damage homes and main insect enemy.

  • There are approximately 45 species of termites in the U.S. There are more than 2,300 species worldwide.
  • Termites are social insects that live in colonies with caste systems, which means termites are organized into different social classes based on their roles and responsibilities.
  • The termite caste system has three levels: reproductives, workers and soldiers.
  • Worker and soldier termites are blind. Only termites that have become fully mature, reproductive termites develop eyes.
  • Since termites live in dark places and many of them are blind, termites communicate through pheromones (chemical signals) and vibrations caused by head-banging.
  • Termites build the largest nests of any insect.
  • Termites cannot “eat” wood. Termites require the help of single-cell organisms in their guts to digest cellulose (wood).
  • Ants are termites main predator. Ants can attack termite colonies or termite workers looking for food.
  • In the U.S., subterranean termites cause more damage than drywood and dampwood termites. Formosan termites, a species of subterranean termite, are responsible for the greatest amount of damage in the U.S.
  • In Australia and Africa, very large and architecturally impressive termite mounds have become tourist attractions.
  • Termites have lived on Earth for approximately 250 million years.

Termites digest cellulose:
picture of termite habitat