Interesting Facts about Termite Biology & Behavior
Termites are often called the silent destroyer because they may be secretly hiding and thriving in your basement or attic without any immediate signs of damage.
While each termite species thrives in different climates and eats different types of food, all termites require four things to survive – food, moisture, shelter and optimal temperature. Unfortunately, all homes, regardless of their construction type, can provide these ideal conditions for termite infestation.
Did You Know?
- 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 recorded history, termites have never developed resistance to any type of pesticide. Termites' survival is due in part to the queen’s “royal taster system,” in which the colony’s workers taste and process all food before it is fed to the queen.
- 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.
- While a serious threat to wooden structures, termites are also beneficial. Their ability to digest cellulose helps these insects recycle the nutrient base of the planet.
Termites digest cellulose: