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Facts On Termites


Termites are a group of eusocial insects that live in colonies, which, at maturity, numbers from several hundred to several million of individuals. They divide labour among castes, produce overlapping generations and take care of young collectively. ‘Worker’ termites are the main caste in the colony that undertakes the duties of foraging, food storage, brood and nest maintenance. ‘Soldier’ termites, as the name suggests, is the one that defence against the invasion of enemy attacks. The ‘winged’ caste, plays a major role in reproduction. A mature queen has the ability to produce 20,000 to 30,000 eggs a day.

Their habitats are nests built using a combination of soil, mud, chewed wood/cellulose, saliva, and even faeces. They are commonly found underground, in large pieces of timber, inside fallen trees, or atop living trees. However, nests can also be seen aboveground which are developed beyond its initially concealing surface. These are known as mounds. Termites cover their trails by forming metres long of shelter tubes on trees made out of faeces, plant matter, saliva, and soil in order to remain hidden and rebuff tracking from predators.
Shelter Tubes   Soldier Termite   Worker Termite
Shelter Tubes   Soldier Termite   Worker Termite
GeneralWhile they are widely known as ‘white ants’, they are not closely related to ants. A termite has a "thicker" body, looking like it is composed of only two sections: a head and a thorax. The ant’s neck and waist are narrower, which makes their three separate sections; a head, a thorax and an abdomen more visible. While both species have wings, they differ in size. A termite has a pair of same-sized wings while the back wings on the flying ant are shorter than the front ones. One last physical difference would be their antennae. Termites have straight antennae whereas an ant's are elbowed on the ends.

The Damage

Termites are commonly viewed as pests in many countries, because of the damage they can cause to structural buildings, electrical cables and pipes. Though they mostly feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung, they will also not forgo paper, cloth, carpets, soft plastics or even rubber. They are able to chew through piping made of soft plastics and even some metals, such as lead, to exploit moisture.

Termites love damp areas around structural buildings, and the hot water that overflows around pipes create ideal conditions for them to build nests and breed. By building their nests around the electrical cables, it will cause the sheathing to be consumed over time resulting in exposed live wires. Their habit of remaining concealed often results in their presence being undetected until the profile is severely damaged and becomes apparent.

Under favourable conditions, a termite colony of 60,000 workers can consume a one-foot length of two by four in as little as four months. Under less ideal conditions, it can take as long as eight years for termites to cause noticeable damage.
The Damage   The Damage