Termites are wood-eating pests; these decomposers have been munching wood for a long time. A termite infestation at home or the workplace is no less than a nightmare. They have the capability to eat away all wood that they come across and can greatly damage the structure of your building. Other than their destructive habits, termites are interesting creatures with some fascinating facts attached to them. Here are the unique, yet menacing, facts about termites.
17 Interesting Facts About Termites:
1. They Eat More Than Just Wood:
Contrary to the popular belief that termites only eat wood, they feast on several other things too. Undoubtedly they enjoy eating wood, but they also love eating plant-made fabrics, wallpaper or even plastic.
2. Termites never sleep:
Yes, that’s surprising but absolutely true. Termites never sleep and they keep on working 24 hours a day, seven days a week without taking a break. This is the key reason behind termites being extremely destructive towards wood structures. They never take a break from the hard work of eating away wood.
3. Termites eat a lot:
Termites eat a lot of food, literally, as they never sleep and work continuously, so they keep on munching food (i-e wood) endlessly. According to a rough estimate, a single colony of termites has the ability to eat away 1000 pounds of wood every year. This is almost equal to 650 baseball bats. With this, you can get an idea of their destructive ability.
4. They produce gas:
Termites produce methane gas as they break down wood and feast upon it. The amount of gas is directly proportional to the amount of wood they eat. More wood eaten = more methane produced.
Scientists believe that annually termites release around 150 million tons of methane gas and hugely contribute to the air pollution.
5. Termites’ mass outweighs humans:
The total termites’ mass (not population) outweighs total human population in the world. With this terrifying fact, we can’t even imagine the total number of termites living. But as per rough estimate, there are 1000 pounds (remember pounds, not population) of termites per living human being on the planet earth.
Try multiplying 1000 with the billions of humans on earth and we end up with mind-boggling stats referring to the total termites’ mass, let alone population.
6. Termites can be eaten:
It might sound nauseating to you but eating termites is a norm in several cultures. They eat them for their daily dose of nutrition and to find a cure for their disease.
Macu Indians are known to have fed no termites during times of drought. People in Singapore eat queens of termites, which they sometimes dip in alcohol or soak them in rice wine; otherwise, they eat them alive.
People in the Amazon have found a cure for a cough and flu in termites. They burn termites’ nests and breathe the smoke in order to cure the flu. Moreover, to treat a cough, they make a soup of boiled termites in sugar and drink it.
7. Temporary wings:
One interesting fact about termites is that they have the capability to occasional grow wings. Termites usually grow wings when they are in need of a new colony and have to move around during swarming. After they achieve their goal and succeed in establishing the colony, they shed away the wings.
8. Termites Lifespan:
Don’t get misled by their size, termite queens have a pretty long lifespan and they can live more than 20 years and rule over the colonies she established.
In favorable conditions, some queens can even live up to 50 years.
Whereas the worker termites live for just a couple of years.
9. Ants eat termites:
Ants are natural predators of termites and where all other remedies fail to exterminate termites from your property, ants succeed there. You won’t find termite colonies anywhere near ant colonies. Though ants bring their own problems with them, they can be strategically used in the fight against termites.
10. Egg laying capacity:
Termite queens have a huge egg-laying capacity and lay enormous amount of eggs in their entire life.
A termite queen can lay up to 30,000 eggs every day, which means they lay eggs every 15 seconds.
That’s a LOT of eggs which will hatch into A LOT of termites.
11. Build Huge Mounds:
Termites have the ability to build huge nests, tubes, and mounds which they use to travel, work and live in. They make large nests as compared to other insects and this can reach up to 12 inches in size. Moreover, they build mud tubes which help them lead towards soft and vulnerable wood. Tubes can be built inside the wood, but they usually are found outside and can be easily spotted (in form of slender mud lines on walls) if there’s a serious termite infestation at home.
These tubes can be pretty long and can measure up to 12 feet. Once in Africa, a mound built by termites was discovered, it was 42 feet high, higher than an average two-story home.
12. Worker and Soldier termites are blind:
This is true for all termite species, their worker and soldier termites are blind because they are in no need of developing functional eyes. They have to spend their whole life in the dark, damp nests. Only reproductive termites develop eyesight as they need to fly out in the light in the search for new sites for nesting, swarming, and finding partners for mating.
13. They’re Well-groomed:
In contrast to their living conditions, where they are surrounded by dirt and mud, termites are extremely picky about their grooming. They spend a lot of time on cleaning themselves and grooming their fellows. This habit is crucial for their life as by staying clean they keep harmful bacteria and parasites away from their colonies.
Trophallaxis is the habit of eating each other’s poop and termites actively engage in this practice.
At the time of birth, termites lack bacteria and microorganisms in their gut which are essential for eating wood and trees. To obtain those microorganisms, they feed upon each other’s poop after molting.
15. Fathers raise youngsters:
Unlike other insects, like bees, where the male species exists only for mating, the termite king stays with the queen throughout his life. He will help the queen in sharing parental duties, feeding youngsters and helping her in fertilizing eggs.
16. Termites are old creatures:
The earliest termite species are known to have lived about 250 million years ago.
They are quite old living creatures and this can be estimated from the fact that earliest dinosaurs lived around 230 million years ago. As per the fossil records, one of the earliest termite specimens even dates back to the Cretaceous period.
17. Need small openings to enter:
Termites don’t need wide openings or cracks to make their entry into your house. Like all insects, miniature openings, even those measuring around the width of a penny, are enough for termites to pass through and invade your house.
If there is termite infestation in your surroundings, you need to be extra vigilant. Find the cracks in your building, around doors and windows and in your foundation. Seal those cracks in a bid to keep termites out of your place.
No matter how fascinating facts about termites are, at the end they are pests and the only thing they will do is to eat away your wooden structures. So, be aware and well-informed about these bugs and always take necessary measures to keep them away from your lovable place.