Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Termite Basics

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 12/16/2015

The bane of any homeowner threatened with the destructive power of the simple little Termite.

Termites are the bane of many a homeowner. They dissolve wood to pulp and feed on the insides of trees to rot out limbs and trunks, eventually bringing down the mighty giants. Termites work in family groups similar to ants, bees and wasps. These nests are true masterpieces though, as they make divided into chambers through tunnels and able to house thousands, even millions, of insects.

Building materials for termite homes can range from wood fibers and leaves to mud and wax. Termites will generally build nests on the ground but they may also build up high in trees. They are even programmed to build sloping roofs so as to shed heavy rainfalls in regions in Africa.

Termite homes, or towers, as they are referred to in Africa are the homes of the Macrotermes which traditionally live in the grasslands. Their nests can be anywhere from a few inches to over 20 feet in height, with several nests stationed near one another creating a farmland of termite housing.

The termites live by collecting plant matter in the form of fungi, which are then devoured by the termites for food. Cooling systems in the nests work by pushing out warm air through a central chimney type opening whilst the cooler air is absorbed through the walls of the termite mounds. The walls of the termite mound start off as wet mud but quickly dry to a hard outer shell in the African sun. Like ants, termites have housing to feed their young, and a certain portion of the termite population is set aside to do just that.

A queen of a termite mound can lay up to a thousand eggs a day, making a termite mound a busy place in a matter of days. The workers then carry away the eggs to their incubator spots and wait for the larvae to hatch, ultimately taking care of them. All in all, the termite is not very different from the ant. They build their homes, nurse their young, and do all they can to help their group survive.

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