Termites, one of the most common types of pests, are known as the “silent destroyers”, because of their ability to chew through wood undetected. But eating wood is not the only thing these insects do. It turns out that there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye, and knowing more may assist you in preventing them. We’ve got your back whether you want termites gone or you are just curious about them.
Termites belong to the Isoptera order. According to www.nhptv.org, this order contains over 2,000 species, 44 of which can be found in North America. The majority of termite species live in tropical and subtropical climates.
Termite refers to any of a group of cellulose-eating insects. Phylogenetic studies have revealed that the termite’s closest relative is the cockroach, and as a result, termites are sometimes classified in the order Dictyoptera.
Just like ants, termites have six legs, segmented bodies, and antennae. Termites’ bodies have 3 parts: a head with two segmented antennae, a thorax, and an abdomen. Termites range in color from whitish-brown to black.
Workers, soldiers, and reproductives are the three main social castes in termite colonies. The look of each type of termite varies. The workers of a subterranean group of termites are smaller, growing to about 6 mm, whereas damp wood termite workers are about 20 mm. Soldiers have bigger mandibles and biting mouthparts, while reproductives have two pairs of wings. Some termites never develop wings and remain underground.
Termites are found all over the world, but tropical forests are the place you will find the greatest numbers. Termites live in dark, moist areas that are not exposed to light or air. To survive, they need a humid environment. They are found in dead trees and on the ground.
Termites are also commonly found in tropical regions wherever they can find a diet filled with cellulose, which includes both living and dead greenery. Some tropical termite species can even build massive mounds of feces, clay, and fungi. These mounds could house millions of termites.
In a house, you should keep an eye out for dry and moist mud lines, especially in dark rooms. As reported by www.orkincanada.ca, wood that is spotted, striped or discolored may also indicate the presence of termites.
The termite’s life cycle starts with a mating flight. Big swarms of winged termites leave the colonies to reproduce. Following fertilization, winged termites lose their wings and go to establish new colonies. According to www.orkin.com, two of these termites will evolve into the king or queen termites of their new colony. These queen and king termites will be responsible for procreation. The laid eggs will hatch into larvae that will develop into one of the three castes throughout several molts.
What do termites eat?
Termites eat mainly cellulose. It is the primary component of plants and is found in many materials that we use. Plants, plant byproducts, the cotton fibers of your clothes, paper products, and, of course, wood are all sources of cellulose for termites. Most termites feed on new or partially decayed wood.
Why do termites primarily eat wood?
Termites need cellulose and nutrients to survive, hence why they consume wood. Their gut has special bacteria that break down the cellulose fibers that other creatures can’t eat. These organisms are the only ones able to take cellulose and convert it into a full meal, giving termites access to a food supply that others can’t touch. Termites need vitamins and proteins in addition to cellulose, which is most likely provided by fungi found in the decayed wood they eat.
What type of wood do they eat?
Termites are particularly fond of wood. However, some types of wood appeal to them more than others. Springwood, in particular, is an alluring meal for termites. Most prefer wood with high moisture and decay. Subterranean termites will consume many types of wood commonly found in homes, including pine and oak. Drywood termites will eat wood floors as well as the wood in a house’s walls. In agreement with the Terminix website, Dampwood termites, on the other hand, prefer moist wood and are commonly found in dead trees, the reason why they rarely infiltrate your house.
How do termites digest wood?
Even if termites consume cellulose found in wood, they do not digest the wood. Inside their bodies, they have microorganisms called protozoa. These have enzymes that can break down the wood that the termites do not have. Within the termite, these protozoa decompose the wood, producing residues that both organisms could absorb.
What would happen if you had termites in your home?
Termites are famous for their capacity to induce pervasive and pricey damage, with an estimated $5 billion worth of destruction annually in the US. These insects will invade and occupy a home and feed on and destroy the wood. How do they get in? Wood-to-ground contact, like door frames and porch steps, is one of the easiest tactics for termites to enter your home. Subterranean termites can also enter through foundation and brick crevasses.
Termites can certainly bring your building down if left untreated. Unfortunately, because termite infestations can be subtle, many people miss the early warning signs. That’s why you need to recognize the first signs of this invasive species.
Before major damage occurs, there are some sure signs you can look for:
- Broken wings: if you find them around doors, windows, or air vents, it’s a clear infestation sign.
- Mud tunnels: termites move around by digging mud tunnels. These may be visible in your walls, foundation, backyard, and other wooden structures.
- Tiny holes or cracks: check the wooden furniture for cracks and hollows regularly.
- Sounds: if you listen to any infested wood or walls, you will hear a clicking sound caused by the colony hitting against the interior of their nest.
Termites do not become a serious problem for a home until clear damage occurs. A specialist can assist in determining prevalent problem areas and red flags of a pest infestation through periodic checks. Termites can go through extremely thin cracks so sealing up any holes around the framework and roof is critical if you want to prevent any bigger problems in the future.
How to get rid of termites?
If you ever find them anywhere in or around your house it’s best to not try to get rid of termites on your own with regular insect spray. Termites sense disruption and will just move to a different place in your house and cause more damage.
Before initiating termite intervention, you should find the position of the colony. It’s best to hire an exterminator to inspect the situation and say what to do.
If you have noticed a subterranean termite infestation, you can get rid of them using a variety of methods. Termiticide barriers and termite baits can be installed around a house. The termite will consume the poisoned materials, return to its colony, and spread the poison.
If dry wood termites have taken over your walls, try using termiticide. You will need to drill holes into the wood where they live, fill the holes with termiticide, and seal them. You can also set up termite baits and spray boric acid on your floors and walls.
If you require assistance or if the infestation is too big, contact an expert. Termite infestations can be difficult to eliminate due to their reach, and seeking the assistance of a pest control professional is the safest thing to do.
Termites are the most destructive insects in the world. They damage the structure of a house and the costs to get rid of them and for the repairs can run into thousands of dollars. When termites have worked their way in there, they will become a big nuisance. With a little knowledge and prevention, you can protect your home against these little, but troublesome creatures and save tons of money in the long term.