Termites Are Exceptional Creatures! TPC Property Services, a Gold Coast based building and pest inspection expert, talks about some of the fascinating aspects of these creatures. But beware! These insects cause billions of dollars of damage to Australian homes each year.
While termites are some of the last insects you want to find living on your property, due to the extensive damage they can cause, these creatures are still fascinating. As long as they are far away from your home, you may find that they are some of the most intriguing bugs on the planet. Here are 10 interesting facts about termites that you may not know.
1. Termites are very helpful to the environment. While you do not want them chewing on your home, in their natural habitat they help to recycle a lot of organic material by chewing up and breaking down dead and decaying trees. This helps this material get back into the soil.
2. Termites have been around for hundreds of millions of years. The oldest termite fossils are nearly 300 million years old, and there are now more than 2700 different species, including 40 in America.
3. While termites live on wood, they cannot actually digest it on their own. Instead, they have bacteria living in their guts that break down this material so that the termites can use the energy from the fibers.
4. The insects are not born with these bacteria in their guts, however. They obtain them by eating the feces of other termites. This is a process known as “trophallaxis.” When a termite has molted, it needs a new supply of bacteria, so it has to eat more feces.
5. Because the inside of a termite mound is quite dark, most termites are completely blind. Workers and soldiers never leave the nest, so they do not need to have eyes. The only termites that can see are ones that have to leave the nest to find a mate and a new place to start a colony.
6. Termites have a very sophisticated system that they use to communicate with each other. For example, if the colony is under attack, the soldiers will bang their heads against the walls. This sends vibrations through the nest that warn the other termites of danger.
7. The insects also communicate by using chemicals known as pheromones. Many other insects, such as ants and wasps, use a similar method to leave messages for each other. Different scents have different meanings, and termites will leave trails of pheromones to guide other termites to various areas.
8. While most termites are flightless, kings and queens have wings. When they hatch from an egg, their wings soon dry and can be used for flight. The reproductive termites leave the nest in large swarms. They emerge in mating pairs and seek out a new place for a new colony. Once they have found a suitable location, the king and queen break off their wings and begin laying eggs.
9. Termites devote a lot of time and energy to staying as clean as possible. They groom each other to remove parasites and bacteria that could spread throughout the colony and cripple the workers. Controlling disease is very important in the crowded conditions of a termite mound, where there can be millions of individuals living in very close contact.
10. A termite mound is air-conditioned with a sophisticated system of vents and air shafts that help to maintain a constant temperature and humidity level for the colony. Even when the temperature outside varies by dozens of degrees throughout the day, conditions inside the mound will remain stable.
As you can see, termites are fascinating insects. You just do not want to discover that they have started a colony in your home. The more that you know about these insects, the more respect you will have for them.