With our busy lifestyles we don’t need complications. With spring coming on, the threat of termites can be a problem for any homeowner. Most of the time we don’t think about termites until we happen to be confronted with evidence of damage, tunneling or termites themselves, around our homes. Then we scurry to find information about termites and controlling them.
Here is some information to help you understand more about the termite.
Termites outdoors are beneficial to nature. They convert dead trees and other material to humus to provide nutrients to the soil. Unfortunately termites can find their way into our homes. Subterranean termites cause homeowners the most damage. Consuming wood at approximately the rate of 2 to 3 percent of their body weight each day. There are several genuses of termites in the United States.
Termites are social insects, meaning there is a division of labor among the different castes. All together there are four different castes.
Workers: They perform the work of the colony and are the most numerous. They groom the queen, feed the other castes, excavate the nest and make the tunnels. These are the termites that do the actual damage to your home.
Soldiers: Their primary job is to protect the colony from its enemies, such as ants or other termite colonies.
Supplementary Reproductives: They are developed as needed to quickly replace a primary queen who gets injured or dies.
Primary Reproductives: These are the swarmer termites. These are what most homeowners usually see first, indicating that termites are present. The winged adults or swarmers emerge from the colonies on flights during the spring and fall seasons. You see swarmers emerge on sunny, warm days usually after a rain shower when the humidity is high. Usually around Mother’s Day. At this time a male and female will pair up. They shed their wings and form a cell in the soil. They then mate, lay eggs and from that come the first group of workers.
Swarming termites are often confused with swarming ants.
Here is how you can tell a swarming termite from a swarming ant.
#1 Ants have a very thin waist between their thorax and abdomen. Termites have a straight body.
#2 The forewings of ants are larger and longer and the hindwings are different shape then the forewings. The wings on termites are the same size.
#3 Ants antennas are bent, while termites antennas are straight.
Subterranean termites are usually found at or near ground level and need moisture to survive. They make tubes called mud tubes, to conceal themselves, ensure a moist environment for the colony and protect the colony from enemies. If you open one of these tubes you can see that the diameter is about the size of a lead pencil.
As with all social insects, there are different degrees of communication. Termites communicate through chemicals called pheromones. They also use sound as a way to communicate. When a colony is disturbed, soldiers and workers bang their heads rapidly on the surface of the mud tunnels or wood galleries when a colony is disturbed. Their primary form of communication is trophallaxis. This is the mutual exchange of nutrients and transfer of food among colony members.
Each fall termites respond to the temperature change by moving down into the soil. This protects them from colder temperatures and their humidity level can be maintained. In the spring when warmer temperatures return, termites move back upward. With spring returning and the weather warming, there is always the possibility you may see termite activity or notice a suspicious area in your home.
Check our website at www.worldpestonline.com for pictures of the caste system of the termite and an explanation of the Sentricon system for eliminating termite colonies. Download our WorldPest app and send us a picture, if you are unsure if you have termites or ants. Also give us a call at 1-800-966-9599 and we can have one of our technicians stop by and visit with you about treating termites.
To learn more about Kansas related pests, visit our Pest Library and Knowledge Center.