Termites are eusocial insects that are classified at the taxonomic ranks of the order; ‘Isoptera’ and family; ‘Termitoidae’.Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.
New Queen lay first batch of 6-12 eggs within few days or weeks of mating.Mature termite colony contains 60,000 to 1 million termites.Queen control and suppress the development of other Queens by releasing pheromones that she maintains within the colony at all times.
- Queen of Eastern subterranean termite U.S live upto staggering 30 years but 15-17 years life span is more common.
- African spp of termite may live upto 50 years.Drywood termites 10-12 years.
Worker termites may live about 2 years.
There are three types of termites:
Damp wood termite, dry wood termite and subterranean termite.
- Damp wood termite
Dampwood termites are much larger than Subterranean termite.Swarmers are 25mm in length while Soldiers are 20mm in length.
Dampwood termites are entirely wood dewelling and most spp don’t require to contact with soil.They don’t construct mud tubes. Damp wood termites do not create shelter tubes.
- Dry wood termite
Dry wood termite nest is in wood.They can tunnel near the surface of wood.In Dry wood termite, there is a complex system of veins 3 or 4 in each wing.mostly they shed their wings for minutes landing which is clear identification.
It may infest your home by air and require less moisture.They kick out holes to push their excrement through wood, six sided frass which resembles fine grains of sand or salt and pepper gathering in small piles on floor.
- Subterranean termite
Subterranean termite nest is in/on ground.Subterranean termite colony may also establish by division of an existing colony. This satellite or subterranean termite has capacity of producing its own reproductive and developing rapidly as an independent colony.
This kind of termite make mud tubes which protect them from predators and dehydration.Maturity of Subterranean termite colony is take place in about 6-7 years.
LIFE CYCLE OF TERMITES
Life cycle of termite vary from spp to spp. It may live 2 years to 50 years.Workers and soldiers live approximately one to two years. Queen termites may live for over a decade under optimal climate conditions.
Queen may produce 20,000 to 30,000 eggs per day.
TERMITE CASTE DEVELOPMENT;
Can be distinguished by physical characteristics.
Workers are wingless and soft-bodied insect.Immature termites or sterile adults are worker.
workers take care of eggs and immature termites forage for food, feed, groom their nest mates, take care of building and colony structure maintenance takes place.
Protectors of colony, typically larger.Darker heads and larger mandibles than worker. These are useful in combat, but render warriors incapable of feeding themselves.Soldiers are guard of their colony and defend against predators.
Reproductives are the termites that procreate.They look different than others and have darker bodies.At maturity, they have 2 pair of wings of equal size and are called Alate. After swarming they shed their wings and establish new colony.
Queen is Largest in physical size.It can lay thousands of eggs in a single day. In some termite colonies, other individuals are capable of replacing kings or Queens if they die.
How do termites reproduce
- Termite Swarmer
These are brown black to pale raddish brown in colour having length of 1/4 to 3/8 inch long.swarming occurs during late winter or early in spring.Male and female swarmer leave their nest on a mating flight with thousands or even millions of other winged termites.
Swarmers are poor fliers, fly few yard from old nest.Winged termites often land on the roofs of building and move inside.
Calling occurs by female , female alate releasing pheromones to attract male for nesting and mating.Male and female termite couple look for nesting site near moist soil.
Before mating, New King and Queen burrow into ground, digging a Royal Chamber in moist soil.King and Queen seal their nest with soil, saliva and own waste; after that mating occurs.
After mating, King and Queen spend the rest of their lives underground being fed by workers.
Mode of Damage of termite
Flying termites loose their wings after their first flight which is called ‘nuptial flight’. One from 1000 flying termites successfully mate and form colony.The wood they eat, their droppings have same colour as that of wood, hard pellets are 1/32 inch long and are hexagonal.
Termite can damage on any substance containing cellulose, drywall, wallpaper,clothing,carpet in your home can be susceptible to damage under attack of termites. Mounds of wood pellets in form of fross is also the indication of termite attack.
When Swarming Occurs
Swarming occurs when weather begins to warm mostly at the end of winter and early in spring. When maturity of colony takes place.
Subterranean termite swarm when it is almost about 3 years of age.over her halftime a termite queen could lay million of eggs.
Primary Queen is responsible to lay eggs as she lives but other(secondary reproductives can also lay eggs but after the death of primary, the secondary reproductive take her place.
Confusion between termite swarmer and ant swarmer
As we know that both termites and ants are social insect and they live in the form of groups. Winged termites and ants are almost similar.For its confusion, it is clear that: Termite have straight antenna while Ants have L-shaped antenna.
Termite wings are larger than Ants.Termite swarmer have 2 pair of wings which are equal in length while Ant swarmer have 1 pair of wing which is shorter or smaller than other wing
Termite bodies are more rounded while ants have segmented body and pronounced waist.
Termites noise that human can hear
- A dry rattle
When termites are disturbed, they communicate with each other bu banging their heads against the walls of their tunnels that create dry rattling.
- Papery rustling
- Hollow sound heard when the wood is tapped.
Note: First 2 sounds (Dry rattle & Papery rustling) are physically caused by termites in action.
Control of termites
- Proper drainage, storage, ventillation and inspection annually.
- Recommended insecticide should be applied on surface of the furniture or injected inside the furniture.
- Fumiagtion should be done.
- If your house has ventillation spot or areas that are humid and don’t get much sunlight, you should not try to leave furniture in those areas.
- Sweepup dead leaves or plants.
- Paint, stain and seal the affected site.
- Keep your gutter clear of debris to allow for proper drainage.
- Do not allow wood debris to accumulate near your home.
- Should avoid the use of Mulch.
- If in case, these tips don’t help with your termite infestation, you must call a Professional Exterminator.
Some other methods to control the termite infestation
- NaCl for Disinfection
Equal parts of NaCl+water and some cotton bolls in mixture.Now put soak cotton on top of furniture or on affected areas. Cotton made up of cellulose and attracts bugs while salt dehydrate them and drive them away.
- Boric acid chemical compound used to treat infection, used to get rid of termites.It attacks on the nervous system of termites and dehydrate them.
- By mixing sugar+boric acid and put it in little containe(bottle or jar with lid) around affected areas.
Do this for 3 to 4 weeks. This may also attract and eliminates Ants and
Cockroaches.Try to avoid ingestion or contact with your eyes..
- Essential oil over last few years people giving more value to the use of Essential oil that they are used in skin care. Most people don’t know that they can eliminate termites.
Oil of Orange, clove, cinnamon, mint and eucalyptus is used to control the attack of termites. Pour some of oil in spray bottle and spray affected areas.
It doesn’t kill them but it serves as repellent a sort of protective barrier. It is recommended that rub some vaseline on furniture and let it sit for one or two days.
Then all you must do is wipe it off and polish it with a soft cloth.
AUTHORS: Arzlan Abbas and Saddam Hussain.
Corresponding Author: Arzlan Abbas