You may know termites for being pesky pests that will destroy your home, however there is much more to them than that. Though termites can be pesky and unwanted, the facts surrounding these insects are incredibly fascinating as well as impressive. Here at SOS Wildlife Control we have compiled a list of interesting and fun facts about termites. Continue reading if you are interested in knowing more about termites or just want to hear some impressive facts about these insects.
Not All Termites are Pests
There are around 2800 species of termites in the world! In fact, only 28 species of termites are known for eating infrastructures. Most species of termites are not interested in eating your home. Unfortunately, the ones that do destroy your home are certainly the pesky kind!
They are Beneficial for Ecosystems
Termites can be beneficial for ecosystems as they aerate soil with their tunnel systems and promote plant growth. Additionally, they clear the dead wood that is found in their surroundings. It has also been found that in dry climates such as savannas termite mounds can help prevent effects of climate change in these climates due to the nutrients and moisture found in these mounds.
Termites do not only Eat Wood
Not all termites only stick to wood in their diet. Some species of termites have been known to eat items such as fabrics and plastics as well.
There are More Termites Than People
One single termite mound can be host to millions of termites. The queen of the termite colony certainly work hard and lay around 30 000 eggs in one single day! These queens can lay 15-25 eggs per minute. That is a large number of termites.
Termites are Large in Numbers Compared to Other Insects
As mentioned, the queen termite can lay an incredibly high number of eggs and produce massive colonies. Termites are so large in numbers that they make up around 95% of all insect and soil biomass found in tropical regions.
Termite Queens Have Long Lifespans
Termite queens can outlive any other insect in the world. In fact, queen termites have the longest life span compared to any other insect on earth. It has been found that some termites queens can live anywhere between 30 – 50 years.
Termites Promote Crop Growth
Termites are helpful for the growth of crops. This is because their poop is rich is nitrogen and acts like a natural soil fertilizer. Additionally, their tunnels help aerate the soil and allows water to penetrate the soil deeply allowing plants to readily soak up more water.
Termites are like Architects
These insects are incredibly strong and hard workers. They build tunnels, move dirt and can build mounds up to 30 feet high. The colonies are able to create intricate tunnels and massive mounds cohesively in order to help their queen and colony survive and thrive.
Termites Bite Faster than a Cheetah Runs
Termites can move their mandibles at 157 miles per hour, whereas a cheetah runs at 76 miles per hour. Their bites are incredibly fast and are certainly effective in order to create their intricate tunnels.
Termites are Rich in Gut Bacteria
Gut bacteria is becoming increasingly more important in research concerning human health. Termites are host to as much as 1400 different species of bacteria in their hindgut – with 90% of this not found in other species on Earth. Scientists are incredibly intrigued by this and strive to harness these microbes to potentially make biofuel from plants.
Termites have been used for Health
In some areas people use termites as a part of a nutritious diet, such as in Singapore. People in the Amazon also burn termite nests and breathe in the smoke in order to care for the flu.
Termites can Build Their own Air Ventilation
Termites are able to keep their nests at a comfortable temperature through the intricate system that is their nest. They create a large chimney that is central to their nest and build a large mound that is above ground. This mound has tunnels that surround the main chimney, this then acts as though they are breathing air in and out, allowing air to flow through their nest.
Termites are very Social
Termites are very social and view their colony as a family. In fact, this “family colony” typically stays together for a minimum of two generations. The family works together to take care of the young and each other. They also work together to protect the nest.
Termites Clean One Another
As we know termites are very social and take care of each other. They spend a lot of time caring for one another which include grooming and cleaning each other. This way they prevent the spread of disease in their colony.
Termites have Roles
Every colony has a caste system. This system includes a queen, king, worker termites and soldier termites. These roles are determined by the queen and her pheromones. The queen feeds her young her feces, which has pheromones in it. Depending on the pheromone that is found in the feces and consumed by the babies, this will determine what type of role the babies grow into.
Queen and King Termites are Winged
When queen and king termites reach sexual maturity, they develop wings. They use these wings to fly away from their nest and colony in the search of finding a new area and new mate to produce their own colony. Once they have found the area in which they want to reproduce, they lose their wings.
Queens are Largest
In the colony, Queen termites are significantly larger than all of the other termites found in the colony. In fact, the largest termite species have queens that can grow up to 4 inches long!
Worker and Solider Termites do not have Eyes
Although queen and king termites have both wings and eyes, many of the lower caste termites such as worker and soldiers do not have either. Worker termites are responsible for building tunnels, foraging and feeding others. They are the smallest caste of termite. Soldier termites are bigger than worker termites and they are responsible for protecting the nest. They have larger and sharp mandibles in order to execute and cause damage to any foreigners that may invade the nest and threaten their colony.
Soldier Termites Cannot Feed Themselves
Solider termites have one role, to protect the nest. This means they are unable to forage for food and feed themselves. Therefore, they rely on worker termites to provide them with sustenance. Worker termites do so by regurgitating cellulose that they have extracted from food sources into the mouths of the solider termites.
Termites Release Pheromones
Pheromones is not only a way to assign roles to termites, but it is also their form of communication. They use different types of pheromones in order to communicate what is going on in the nest, where there may be food, where there may be threats as well as other information. The pheromones are secreted from grands that are found around their chest.
Termites use Vibrations
Termites not only use pheromones as a form of communication, but they also use vibrations. If there is a threat to the colony termites will create vibrations in order to warn the others of the threat. They do so by tapping or banging their heads against the colony tunnel walls.
They Have Sensory Organs
As termites use vibration in order to communicate, they have sense organs in both their tibiae and the base of their antennae which allow them to feel any vibrations.
They Sense Food Sources through Vibrations
Termites are able to sense which food sources to search for and infest based on vibroacoustic signals that are sensed. The ability to sense vibroacoustic have been found to be specific to only some species of termites and not all termites possess this ability.
Termites do not Sleep
Termites do not sleep! In fact, they work 24 hours a day until their death. This brings a whole new meaning to worker termites!
Termites Have Competition
Termites and ants do not get along, in fact ants are not only competition for termites but are also their predators. If termite and ant colonies are found near each other, both colonies may even go at war in order to claim their territory and access to food. In these wars the soldiers castes of both species invade each other colonies.
Termites Produce Gas
Termites produce methane gas as they digest the wood that they have eaten. In fact, it is has been found that termites may release around 150 million tons of methane gas per year.
World’s Largest Termite Colony
The largest termite colony that has ever been recorded in history had over 3 million termites. This is the size of a large city!
Although termites certainly get a bad reputation, they certainly aren’t all bad. In fact, they are quite impressive creatures, and their work ethic is certainly unmatched! Although they are impressive insects, they can definitely become a nuisance in your life if you are affected by the wrong type of termite – the infrastructure eating kind. As mentioned, termites work 24 hours a day and will not stop to rest or sleep. Simply imagine what that would do to your home if they got their way into your infrastructure. If you are concerned about an infestation in or around your home, it is always best to contact the professionals before the situation gets worse. If you already have an infestation, here at SOS Wildlife Control we can eliminate the problem for you in a safe and responsibly manner. We always keep you and your family’s health and safety in mind. ! If you are concerned that you may have a termite infestation in your home or your office, contact us for safe elimination that does not jeopardize your health and safety.
If you have questions about your termite problem call us at (647) 994-9453 or 1-800-981-0330, we will do our best to help.