As a homeowner, you probably know the basics about termites. They live in colonies, are attracted to moist wood,and can destroy your wooden structures in little more than a blink of the eye. However, there is more to these destructive insects than meets the eye. Here are five strange facts about termites.
Termites may look like ants, but they are more closely related to cockroaches. In fact, in February 2018, scientists reclassified termites, placing them in the same order as cockroaches: Blattodea. This change came after research found that termites and cockroaches had even more in common than previously thought. They're basically cockroaches with a more complex social structure.
A species of termite that lives in Australia, known as Mastotermes darwiniensis, has an abdomen that looks like a cockroach and a midsection resembling that of a termite. It feeds on decaying wood like a termite but reproduces more similarly to a cockroach. For this reason, scientists surmise that termites evolved from cockroaches and that Mastotermes darwiniensis may be an ancestral link between the two insects.
You might assume that building tunnels through wood requires good eyesight, but termites are mostly blind. Kings and queens in the colony have small, weak eyes, but the workers - those who tunnel through the wood - cannot see at all.
Because they are blind, termites rely on other senses to find their way around. They release scented chemicals from their abdomens, which create trails that other termites can follow to a food source or back to the colony. They also bump their tunnels with their heads to create vibrations that other termites detect. Termites' powerful sense of smell makes them hard to exterminate since they can easily smell and avoid insecticides.
You should always call a pest control company at the first sign of termite activity - not just because of the damage the bugs cause but also because of how quickly they reproduce. A termite queen can lay an egg every three seconds. More remarkably, she can live for up to 20 years. Do some quick math,and you'll find that a single termite queen can lay more than 10,000,000 eggs per year and more than 200,000,000 eggs in a lifetime.
The queen's only real role in the colony is to reproduce. Termite queens soon grow too large to even move; they just sit in one place producing eggs. Thankfully, there is only one queen per termite colony.
Symbiosis is a relationship between two species that benefits both species. Some termite species have a symbiotic relationship with fungi. In Africa, Macrotermes termites build giant mound nests. A fungus called Termitomycesgrows in the nest and breaks down the woody material from which the nest is made. The termites can then consume the sugary product left behind after the fungi partially digest the wood.
If you come across a termite, you probably won't feel an urge to put it into your mouth. However, people in West Africa, Australia,and parts of South America do eat termites. They gather the termites when they are swarming, fry them in oil, and sell them in street markets. Apparently, termites have a flavor similar to that of carrots.
Some scientists have surmised that at the rate the world's population is growing, people will have to rely on insects as a protein source in the future, so your children or grandchildren may think it normal to eat termites at some point.
As interesting as termites are, you do not want to find them in or around your home. If you suspect you may have a termite problem,contact First Choice Termite &Pest Control, Inc. We offer comprehensive pest control services throughout upstate South Carolina.