Termites have been around for millions of years and can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. They eat wood and do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The National Pest Management Association estimates that they can cause as much as $5 billion in property damage each year! A Five Star Termite & Pest Control outlines some interesting facts about termites below.
What Makes a Termite Unique?
1. Termites descended from cockroach-like ancestors. These fossils were recorded back to the Cretaceous period. This means about 145 to 66 million years ago.
2. Termites can be good, ecologically. As devastating as the damage from termites can be, they are beneficial. The same way they break down wood is good for recycling dead and decaying trees into new soil. The vitality of our forests depends on termites. The tunnels they create help to aerate the soil.
3. Digestion of cellulose. Termites will eat plants directly of the fungus growing on decaying plant material. They will digest tough plant fibers or cellulose with microorganisms in their gut. This process is beneficial to the termites and the microorganisms that live within their insect’s hosts.
4. Termites eat each other’s poop. Termites get some of the bacteria they need from eating each other’s poop. They need to get all this bacteria into their system before they start to eat trees. The poop eating remains a big part of their life cycle as they resupply themselves after they molt.
5. Termite workers and soldiers are usually blind. These termites don’t need to develop good eyesight as they spend most of their lives in dark, damp nests. The only termites that need to see are the ones that reproduce because they need to fly to find mates and sites for nests.
6. Termite soldiers will tap warning signals. If they detect a threat, they will sound the alarm by hitting their heads against the gallery walls. This will warn the entire colony of a threat.
7. Male termites help rear their young. Unlike bee colonies, where the males aren’t around for long, termite dads stay around and help raise their young. They will continue to fertilize the eggs of the female for as long as needed and will help her feed their young with predigested food.
8. Chemical guided communication. Termites use special chemical scents called pheromones to communicate with each other and to manipulate behavior-each colony has its own special scent.
9. Termites like to groom themselves. It’s hard to imagine that any insects like to be well groomed, but termites will try very hard to stay clean. They will groom each other to keep harmful bacteria and parasites away for the health of the colony.
10. Reproductive termites can fly. New kings and queens are winged so they can and leave their home colony to look for a mate. Once they pair themselves, their wings will break off and they will start their own colony.