Termites are social insects. They are best known for their wood eating habit. They feed on dead plants, animals, timbers, and anything that contains cellulose.
There are 2600 taxonomically known species of termites. Termites are also known to be a good bio reactor as they can recycle anything that contains cellulose and hence helps in many natural recycling procedures.
Family of Termite
A typical colony contains nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens.
Types of Termite
- Dampwood Termites.
- Drywood Termites
- Subterranean Termite
- Mound Builders/ Arboreal Termites
- Dampwood Termites.
This type of termite is mostly found in coastal areas. As the name suggests they only infest wood that too with high moisture. Dampwood termites are generally much larger than subterranean termites. Dampwood termites contain various species, and are known to "swarm" to set up new nests during the year from January to October. Including their wings, a swarmer may be up to 1" in length. The soldiers of dampwood termites have a large reddish-brown head and large multi-toothed mandibles (pincers). They do not make tubes for their shelter. They always eat across grain. They make chambers interconnected with the tunnels. They mainly infest dead trees, felled timbers, stumps and any wooden article which is in direct contact with the ground/soil with high moisture. The colonies of dampwood termites are wood dwelling, with most species not requiring contact with the soil. There is no worker caste in dampwood termites as the nymphs can perform all the tasks typically done by workers. Faecal pellets are about 1/32" long and colored according to the wood being eaten. The pellets are usually very similar in shape (elongate oval) to those of drywood termites but with the six sides flattened instead of being concave. If the wood is very damp, the pellets may be spherical or round.
- Drywood Termite
Drywood termites are so named because they actually live in dry wood. Drywood termite infestations can occur in any dry wood from pieces of furniture to picture frames to flooring. The typical drywood termite colony is relatively small, and there are often multiple drywood termite
colonies in the same home. Unlike soil-feeding termites, drywood termites do not need soil. Instead, drywood termites create large termite tunnels across the wood grain. Termites live inside wood and do not make contact with soil. They get the moisture they need to live from humid air. For this reason, Drywood termites are most common along humid coastal areas. Drywood termites are secretive insects and are difficult to detect. Drywood termites constructs a maze of meandering interconnected galleries. The spotting of eggs, larvae and young pseudergates( false workers) indicates the presence of the king and the queen nearby. Drywood termites' legs are actually shorter than subterranean termites' legs, as well, and they literally move slower as a result. The entire colony may take five years or more to mature
- Subterranean Termite
Termites live in the soil and must maintain contact with the ground or some other moisture source to survive. They build earthen tubes from the ground into the structure for protection from predators and to help maintain a moist environment. In some rare situations, if water and wood are available from a source other than the soil, subterranean termites can establish a colony with no ground contact.
- Arboreal Termite
Bodies are ant-like with a light-reddish-brown, wrinkled head and a black body; six legged; compound eyes and chewing mouth parts; mandibles do not have teeth. The workers are dimorphic having large and small forms. Workers and soldiers are blind. During the winged stage there are 2 pairs of wings of equal size that are slightly longer than the body. They build mound nests on the ground, in trees or wood structures. Reproductives are produced and released once a year after the first heavy rain in the fall. They can make your premise a pile of termites if left untreated.
Life Cycle Of Termite
Termites undergo an incomplete metamorphosis, with three developmental stages:
The eggs hatch into nymphs that are fed by the workers, and these nymphs thenmoult several times, differentiating into worker, soldier or reproductive forms. Development into adult forms takes several months, depending on food, temperature and the size of the colony. Hormones are thought to control the numbers of each caste, with imbalances corrected by nymphs developing into whichever form is needed at the time.
Detection Of Termite
As termites remain concealed, it is very difficult to detect their presence without the help of professionals. But some signs of termite which can warn you against termites are:
There are three different signs of termite presence.
1. Swarmers- Presence of swarmer on the window sills, indoor lights detects the activity of these termites. Swarmers if found outside the premise is a natural phenomenon but it should not be taken for granted as it could lead to severe damage.
Swarmer discard their wings. These discarded wings also indicates termite presence.
3. Rotten/ Damaged Wood-
Hollow, damaged and rotten wood clues for the presence of termites. If a wood gives a thudding sound on beaten up, should examined for termites. Presence of soil mounds near your premise also indicates presence of termites.
Termite can end up eating anything they prefer even human. Their wood eating habit makes them the worst enemy for wood. As they remain concealed to protect themselves from unfavorable climate, it is difficult to detect them until major damage has been done. As soon as they enter a building they do not
limit themselves to wood but infest other things made up of cellulose. Termites have a major entry to a building is through soil., but can even be transmitted through soft plastics, plaster, rubber and sealants such as silicon rubber and acrylics and construction materials. Any material which is in direct contact with the soil such as trees, vines or plumbing fixtures -- serves as an avenue of infestation.
Control & Prevention Tips
- Proper Cleanliness of the premise
- Remove all old wooden debris, clothes, etc
- Get your premise an anti-termite treatment pre/post construction.
- Keep all wood away from soil's contact.
- Go for routine check up of the premise by professional and experienced termite control company.