18 Facts About Termites
Termites are pests you never want near your home. While other bugs will eat your cereal and pet food, termites eat your actual house. Learning some interesting facts about them might help you figure out if you have them on your property by doing a termite inspection and decide how you want to handle the possible termite infestation. Here are 15 fascinating, and sometimes gross, facts about termites, as well as some tips on how to combat their damage below.
- Termites cause over 5 billion dollars worth of property damage every year!
- Termites don’t sleep. They spend 24 hours a day, every day, constructing and expanding their colonies.
- Some queens are known to lay around 15 to 25 eggs a minute. That’s over 40,000 eggs in a day!
- A colony of termites, left unchecked, can consume up to 1,000 pounds of wood each year.
- Alaska is the only state in the country that has virtually no termites, due to the cold climate. Termites like the heat, as states like Texas or Arizona can attest, where they routinely invade homes and businesses.
- Termites can make large mounds, nests, and tubes that they travel, work, and live in. Their nests can be as wide as 12 inches across.
- Termites are remarkably hygienic creatures. The colonies spend time grooming each other in an effort to prevent disease and parasites.
- Reproductive and soldier termites are incapable of feeding themselves and depend on the worker caste to feed them with regurgitated and digested cellulose (the chemical compound found in wood) via mouth-to-mouth. Their bodies lack the enzymes necessary to digest the pulp.
- Termites and ants are mortal enemies, being each other’s predators and primary competition. Termite and ant colonies will fight over territory through methodical invasions on the enemy’s colonies and access to food.
- At the base of their antennae and tibiae, or legs, termites have organs that let them sense vibrations. In some studies, they can sense differences in vibration between types of wood and choose the wood to consume based on if the vibrations are favorable or not. Older, unprotected wood is thought to be easier to tunnel through, making it a prime target.
- Termites have glands located on their chests that secrete a variety of chemical signals called pheromones. These pheromones are used to send information about food and enemy locations to others in the colony. Each colony produces their own scent, helping them identify intruders in their nest.
- Termites release methane gas when they consume wood. It has been estimated that termites produce over 150 million tons of methane gas each year, adding significantly to air pollution.
- Termite queens have longer lifespans than any other insect in the world. Most live between 15 to 25 years, though some have lived up to 50 years under the right conditions.
- After a termite is born, their first meals are feces. During infancy, they lack the necessary bacteria to break down the cellulose in the wood. To combat this, they practice what is called trophallaxis, the act of eating feces to gain gut bacteria. After molting, they need to resupply, having lost the bacteria during the molt, making trophallaxis an important part of a termite’s life.
- Speaking of feces, termite queens determine the future job of larvae by feeding them different pheromones mixed with their first meal. She will scent the feces herself, helping to balance the needs of the nest.
- Termites are rich in calcium, iron and protein, making them a nutritious food. Some Amazonian natives will make a soup out of boiled termites and sugar to help cure whooping cough and people in Singapore will eat termite queens, either live or dipped in alcohol.
- Not only do termites outnumber humans, termites have a greater biomass than all humans. That a lot of termites!
- The largest termite colony ever recorded was over 3 million termites.
Types of Termites
There are 4 types of termites you may come across, depending on where in the United States you live. Knowing the key differences between the species can help you determine what kind of termite infestation you have and the best way to treat it.
They generally live, feed and nest in undecayed wood due to the low moisture content. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not need any contact with the soil to live. They do extensive damage to movable, and old, wooden objects, like tables, chairs, or siding.
They are drawn to water-damaged wood or wood that rests directly on the ground. Other things that attract dampwood termites include tree branches, fallen logs, stumps, and lumber. They also infest places where your roof leaks or near cracked drain pipes.
Subterranean termites build distinctive tunnels, called mud tubes to protect them from being exposed to dry air while they hunt for wet or undisturbed wood. These termites dwell in underground colonies with as many as two million members. Subterranean termites are considered to be the most destructive termite species. Left unchecked, they can collapse a building entirely.
These are nicknamed the super-termite because of their large colonies and ability to rapidly consume wood. Formosans live underground and are so robust, an established colony can only be managed, not eliminated. They can chew through thin metals, some plastics, and styrofoam in their quest for cellulose.
Termites love to eat wood for its chemical compound called cellulose. Termites possess microorganisms that live inside their digestive system called protozoa. These protozoa are responsible for breaking down the wood, turning it into proteins and sugars both organisms can digest. The size of the colony, and amount of wood necessary to produce energy for an individual termite, means a colony can do an incredible amount of damage when left unchecked, and can even cause buildings to crumble.
Termite Foundation Damage
Termites do not cause damage to the foundation itself (due to their composition of concrete, concrete block or brick) but they can use small cracks in the foundation to enter your home. Gaps as small as the width of a poker card, or untreated hollow spaces in the blocks or bricks, can give them entrance. The most significant damage usually occurs to any wood sources on top of the foundation, as termites will build support tunnels on the foundation itself to reach them. Termites are destructive to structural supports made of wood, especially where there is direct wood-to-ground contact. In most cases, it is best to remove wood from the ground and use concrete supports.
Termite Wall Damage
Holes and cavities in the walls can reveal the presence of termites. Walls are particularly subject to termite damage as they are easily accessible from the ground and have a wide surface area. Termites can remain hidden in walls, making it difficult to discover their presence until it is too late. A telltale sign of termites is the paint buckling, or bulging outwards, signifying the wood underneath has been consumed.
Termite Ceiling Damage
Termite ceiling damage closely resembles water damage. The ceiling in question will buckle, or sag downwards, although this won’t be obvious until significant damage has been done. Drywood and subterranean termites are the most common culprits for ceiling damage due to their tunneling nature.
Termite Flooring Damage
Termite damage to the floor can be difficult to repair and even harder to spot. Termites rarely limit their destruction to the superficial, or upper, part of the floor, preferring the softer wood used in the subfloor and supporting components. Squeaky floors and hollow sounds could all be indications of a termite infestation.
Green Country Pest Control
When you want termite prevention, you need to hire the best around. Green Country Pest Control has a team of professionals with decades of shared experience in pest control, and leaving your residence or commercial property sanitary and pest-free. Get a free termite inspection with us to get the best termite treatment and pest control in Pearland.