HOW TO IDENTIFY TERMITES
Every house with a wooden structure or wooden furniture may have had a problem with termites. Termites can eat away an entire wooden structure.
Knowing basics about termites will help in combating them in a better way and to protect your home from the damage these pests pose.
Termites’ approximate size ranges from ¼ of an inch to ½ inch; they have soft bodies and pale white/beige color. Kings and queens are relatively larger than worker and soldier termites an can be up to 1 inch long. They are also darker in color. Reproductive termites have two pairs of wings which they shed later.
Termites are usually confused with ants but unlike ants, they have a straight waist and straight antenna.
Termites just like ants are social insects and live in colonies. Theirs is a very structured colony possessing different castes, king, and queen, each performing their respective roles for the protection of their colony. Termites use vibration and pheromones to communicate with each other.
Common signs which indicate termites’ infestation at your place are:
- Cracks in walls
- Hollow sounded wooden structures, furniture or floor
- Finding termite droppings
- Mud tubes on walls
HOW DO YOU GET TERMITES
The following are known termite’s favorites and by controlling them you can control their entry into your house:
Termites feed on cellulose – key building material of plants and trees. So, when people stack firewood near their house, it becomes the major reason for luring termites to the stack and eventually to your home. Get rid of any excess wood, dead wood and bushes in your garden as these are ideal places for termites to nest.
Dark and damp surroundings are ideal habitats for termites. Accumulated water around the house or improper drainage catches the attention of termites and they make their way to your home.
Mulch provides much-needed moisture to termites, thus they got attracted towards it. Mulch should be placed away from the foundation to avoid termite invasion and if possible, it should be replaced with pine needles.
HOW TO GET RID OF TERMITES
Termites are highly dangerous for wooden structures and it’s essential to eradicate their presence as soon as possible. The following are some of the ways to get rid of these pests:
Poisoned baits are easily available in the market. These baits appear attractive for termites. They work slowly and when termites take the poison they bring it back to the colony, eventually eradicating the rest of them.
Boric acid is an effective insecticide and can be used to exterminate termites. Sprinkle boric acid on the hideouts or nests of termites and it will gradually kill them. Or you can spray boric acid solution in water in the same manner.
Diatomaceous Earth is a common insecticide used to kill termites and other pests. Pick any insect killer with Diatomaceous Earth being its main ingredient and apply it according to the instructions on the packaging.
Nematodes are little hungry worms that prey on insects and pests. You can also use them against termites.
Expose the area infested by termites to direct sunlight; sunlight and UV rays are lethal for termites.
TERMITES LIFE CYCLE [INFOGRAPHIC]
The life cycle of termites is often referred to as incomplete metamorphosis or hemimetabolous life cycle. The different stages of termites’ life cycle are:
The termites’ life cycles start with the queen laying eggs. The queen can lay from a few hundred to a few thousand eggs per day.
Eggs hatch into larvae after 30 days. Termite kings then feed these pale white immature termites.
Larvae molt several times and the environmental factors and pheromone cues by the king and the queen determine which caste larvae will assume after growing. The termites’ castes which larvae can develop into include workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites.
Molting is required to achieve the maturity and usually, a larva requires up to three molts for complete maturity. After the molting larva picks up the caste it develops a structure accordingly. Every caste has specific functions to perform for the survival of the colony.
The most important part of any termite colony is worker termites. They play different roles like feeding other castes and constructing tunnels. Most termites seen eating wood are worker termites. They are sterile and worker stage is a terminal stage. They don’t grow further and have a life span of 1 – 2 years.
These termites are yellow-brown in color; they have large mandibles and red enlarged heads. Their purpose is to defend the colonies from any probable intruder like ants and attack the invaders with their mandibles. They can’t eat on their own and depend on worker ants to feed them. Soldier stage is also terminal stage and soldiers are also sterile and don’t live longer than 2 years.
Reproductive termites (alates)
Reproductive termites are dark in color and born with two pairs of wings. Those larvae who assume the role of reproductive alates (kings and queens) leave their colony during colonizing flight, search a suitable site for nesting, mate there, reproduce and become the king and queen of their own colonies.
PURPOSE OF TERMITES IN THE ECOSYSTEM
Termites play a positive role in the functioning of the ecosystem. In arid and semi-arid environments, termites are regarded as chief decomposers of macro-invertebrates. The diversity of soil microbes, plants and animals are also influenced by the termites because of their impact on natural resources.
Check out some interesting yet intimidating facts about these wood – eaters.
- They can eat anything which is made up of plants, even fabric, and plastic.
- Termites never sleep and keep on doing the hard work of eating wood 24/7
- Termites have humungous eating capacity; a single termite colony can eat 1000 pounds of wood in a year.
- Termites are older creatures, older than dinosaurs and made their first appearance 250 million years ago.
- Termites actively engage in habit of eating each other’s poop.
- Worker and soldier termites are blind.
- Termites have huge egg laying capacity and their queen can lay up to 30,000 eggs every day.