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Understanding Termites

Regardless if we are farmers, businessmen owning a corporate building or simply home owners, it is necessary that we understand termites and their nature because their presence in our industrial territories posts so much risks of valuable damages. They could be very indiscriminately destructive since they eat all materials with cellulose such as woods, soft plastics, papers, clothes and carpets aside from fruits, vegetables and animal wastes. Sometimes, their presence goes unnoticed for a certain period of time because they often create their colony in our walls or underneath our floors where we could not see them gobble our material possessions. Therefore, the more we know about them, the more effective we could be in exterminating them and minimize the damages they cause.

1. About Termite Organizations and Colonies

The most basic information that everybody needs to know about termites is that, they live in a colony with a well-structured social system. The tasks assigned to them determine the caste that they would be put in. The highest social classification is the caste of the queen and the king. These two termites are responsible for the increase in their population which is very essential to their survival. The more individuals added in the colony, the greater chance for all of them to survive. The second caste is composed of workers which are otherwise called the aids or the assistants. Their tasks justify their names. They are assigned to assist the queen with all the things that she needs and take care of all her eggs and young termites. They also feed other termites and for this reason, they are the main food seekers of the whole society. They go out and forage for food, store them and feed the others. Other tasks assigned to the workers are to repair any damages in the colony and serve as back-ups in the battle if the soldiers are outnumbered by the invaders. Here comes the third caste which is composed of soldiers. These termites are born with no sense of sight but they are physically structured for defense. Their heads are globular and ideal in blocking the entrances of the colony while their jaws are good enough as weapons due to their enlarged size.

2. Location and Habitats

The next important thing to understand about termites is their habitat. In savanna and arid regions, these insects usually build mounds which range from approximately two to four feet tall and have long axis orienting from the North to the South. This particular structural make-up is being used for thermoregulation inside the mounds. The termites need to maintain a specific temperature in their colony so that they can regulate the temperature in their bodies as well. Another form of habitat that termites have is the nest. They build up their nests using mud, chewed wood, soil, saliva and their own feces. Within the nests are chambers which are divided into the queen's and king's chamber, the chambers for the eggs and the young ones and the chambers for the workers to fulfill their tasks. These chambers also allow sufficient ventilation inside the colony for the healthy survival of all termites. Moreover, the nests collect water through condensation and they are usually built on trees or big tubes on tunnels.

Some of them are built on fallen trees in gardens with many fungi which serve as food for the termites. Consequently, termites are weak insects and very vulnerable to attacks from other species like ants and spiders. They also need to stay moist in order to live. For these reasons, termites build shelter tubes as they travel from their colony to different areas where they get food. These shelter tubes are made of plant matters, saliva, soil and feces. Once a breach is caused by invaders, soldiers bang their heads to attract attention from other soldiers in order for them to defend the colony. If the soldiers are outnumbered, they call on reinforcement from other strong workers in order to fight off the invaders.

3. Food, Metabolism and More

Moreover, the most important thing to understand about termites is their diet. Termites, as we all know, feed on anything that has cellulose. Their bodies could produce their own cellulose enzymes which help in digesting the materials they eat. Fruits, woods, vegetables, papers, soft plastics and clothes are just some of their favorite things to gobble. The termites which we see infesting our grounds foraging for food are actually the workers of the colony. They consume as much as their body could hold because they need to feed other termites with the food that they have stored within their bodies. In doing so, they use their mouth and anus. These feeding workers take care of all the needs for nutrients that the individuals in their colony could do with, including the queen and the king. Some termites however maintain a garden of fungi within the area of their colony. These fungi are nourished by the excrements of the termites and in turn, they suffice the diet of these insects. The spores of the eaten fungi could not be digested so upon defecating, these spores go back to the soil and grow as new fungi. Thus, termites also help the life cycle of fungi while they nourish them. It is actually a symbiotic relationship in a quest for survival.

4. Conclusions

Upon understanding the basics of termites’ continued existence, we could devise a strategy on how to exterminate them efficiently. Since they need moist in order to live, it is highly advised that we keep our house or industrial buildings dry. In building some structures, it would help if we use cement or metallic materials in direct contact with the soil instead of wood to avoid easy access of termites. However, they could still bridge that up by using shelter tubes so what we can do is to regularly inspect all areas of our houses or buildings to find some tell-tale signs of termites. If you have confirmed per evidences that there are already some existing in your territory, you can use pesticides or other tenting treatments to exterminate them. It is best, though, that you call on the help of pest control specialists because what you can see are just specks of the real number living in your house since there is a possibility that they have already built a colony within your wall or any hidden areas of your house. If there is a colony, you need to exterminate the queen and the king, not just the workers or the soldiers. In dealing with these damaging insects, preventive measures could help but are truly not enough so when you get to see one, fumigating the whole house is the best resort so that you can surely get rid of all of them.

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Michael Rozatoru :)
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