Termites are six-legged insects with straight and pointing beady antennae. They don’t have a distinct segmentation in their body. Instead, their body structure is somewhat ribbed.
Their heads are large in comparison to the size of the body, which is either pale yellow or white. In a termite colony, there are workers, soldiers, and mature reproductive adults. The latter is dark brown in color and have fully developed wings.
Termites can deceptively look like flying ants. The differences between ants and termites significantly impact what kind of service you need to control them in your house.
Often, damage caused by termites is confused for a case of the carpenter or fire ant infestation, due to their similarities. While ants have bent antennae, the termites’ antennae are straight.
Termites also have wings of the same length; however, ants have wings of different lengths. The termite swarmers are only around one-fourth of an inch long, which is about the size of a pencil eraser.
Types of Termites
These are some of the largest termites in the world and are around 25 millimeters in length. These termites have about twenty different species in the world.
They usually live in forests and make their nests in rotten and wet woods, usually on the forest floor. The workers of this type are pale milky white, while the darker colored soldiers have a brown head.
These termites are best known for their need to nest in contact with soil, although there are some exceptions.
The soldiers of this type of termites have ‘pronotum’ which is a flat area behind the head. This part can produce a kind of defensive fluid.
There are two subtypes of subterranean termites which are the Eastern Subterranean Termites and the Formosan Subterranean Termites.
The Nasutiform termites are not actually harmful to your homes, rather they are beneficial to the ecosystem of the desert regions.
These termites build large mounds and are found in the tropical climates of Africa, Asia, Australia and some are also found in the North American deserts. The mounds that they make have been recorded to be as high as eight meters tall.
Termites consume mainly wood and other plants, which gives them the necessary cellulose for nutrition. They are very secretive, as a result, they seldom come out in the open.
The most visible sign of termite presence around the house is swarming. They swarm to attract mates and begin new colonies. They mainly communicate through chemical means. They release pheromones to sound alarms, leave trails, establish contact or to attract a mate.
Usually, subterranean termites live in the soil by building large mounds, which also have interconnected and elaborate tunnels.
Through these mud tunnels, they can access food sources situated above the ground. Drywood termites are the ones that make their homes in wood. They also infest walls and home furniture, causing damage to human-made structures.
Life Cycle and Reproduction
Termites go through what can be called an incomplete metamorphosis, also known as a hemimetabolous life cycle. Due to its life cycle, three types or caste types of termites are found. These are the reproductive termites, workers, and the soldiers.
The queen lays hundreds of eggs, and once an egg hatches, this stage is called the larval stage. First, it hatches from the egg to become a larva or nymph; the next stage is the older nymph. It can then turn into either a worker, a soldier or a supplementary or secondary reproductive termite.
These changes happen due to environmental, social or pheromonal reasons. In search of a mate during summer, the queen and king termites swarm and form large groups. During this time, the mates have a courtship dance, and then they begin their own colony.
Along with the queen, the male shares the labor, and the baby termites are born from the eggs laid. Both the workers and soldier termites happen to be sterile.