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Termites: A Biology Article

Termites are perhaps one of the most numerous species of creatures on the planet. There are about over 500,000 species of them and most of them are left undiscovered just yet. Termites are actually pretty fascinating creatures, apart from the given fact that they can also be very destructive. If termites don't destroy human properties, then they might just be worth ever appreciation of every human being in the planet in the kind metamorphic evolution they go through. It's time that we take a closer look at termites and learn how to appreciate them. The question now is how do we do that? When every time we think about termites, all that ever pops into our head is the devastating outputs of termites once they start on their feeding spree? If you think about it, it is actually quite difficult to shift the paradigms of our minds into thinking that termites are actually great creatures. There's almost nothing to see that is good in them. We could almost condone their existence and find them pretty negligible. If nothing else comes good in their presence on earth, we could just practically wipe them off the planet and bring their species into extinction.

However, that's not necessarily so. Termites they may be, they also server a crucial role to our planetary balance. Their absence would prove to be fatal to the intermeshed web of life and the entire balance of every creature's existence. Imagine how many species of creatures on earth will be deprived of food source if we take out termites off the big picture. Then we would really have serious problems in our hands. It is worth the time to take a look at these amazing creatures so that once and for all we could learn to appreciate them. If we don't do it now, we might end up in the same scenario as predicted if we don't learn to give value or importance to such small creatures. Just because their destructive to our properties, doesn't necessarily mean their absolutely pests and that they do us no good at all.

It's about time we take a look at the biological backdrop of termites in the world and see through the salient points that is truly worth appreciating for when it comes to termites. You'll be surprised how much your perspectives have changed after you have read through this article and understood the very fascinating nature about termites.

The Biological Backdrop

Let us first talk about the most prominent species of termite in the planet and hope we could change our perception towards them by learning what they are and how their magnificent existence works. The Macrotermes bellicosus is the most widely distributed species of termites in the planet. They are also close relatives to the notorious subterranean Formosan termites which are usually the cause why we complain a lot about sudden property damages in our houses or any property. This species of termites are also among the largest of the termites species. They are quite large enough to become noticeably conspicuous. Termites do live in colonies. This one in particular, could actually have colony as large as hundreds of thousands in population and they could grow as much only within a span of few years. Probably 3-5 years of healthy thriving colony. These termites are also known for their other name "white ants" which is quite ironically, not true at all because of the obvious fact that they are termites and not ants. What's even more farfetched is that termites are not at all related to ants in any way possible.


Did you know that termites build nests? You may have only thought that birds are the only ones capable of building such a dwelling. However, termites do build nests as well. Well at least some species of termites are able to build nests and like birds, they also build their nests in wood materials. It's quite a wonder to imagine how termites could possibly relocate pieces of wood or twigs and construct them or assemble such that they will be to form a nest dwelling. And like birds, they also build their nests in trees and or sometimes in posts. The bellicosus species build their nests inside the ground, burrowed deep down underneath. Theoretically, they do this to prevent any harmful interference from their predators and careless humans. The nest is often constructed using sand and clay.

To answer your question as to how they are able to do it, it kind of works likes this: Worker termites would first go out in search of materials to be used in the building of the nests. Usually, the materials are sand, clay and some wood twigs, if ever there are any. They gather these materials by carrying them through their mouth. They would usually carry a mouthful of these materials back to the burrows they have created on the ground where they would build their nests. The sand and clay that they carry in their mouse would consequentially be moistened by their saliva. This would them make the materials sufficiently malleable during the process of moulding the materials into nest dwellings. Usually, the building activities for termites would be the busiest during the beginning of the wet seasons, wherein most of the materials are already wet and would naturally be easier to maneuver in order to build their nests.

All termites in the world would feed on cellulose materials or vegetations and this has been their primary source of diet ever since time immemorial. Their evolution perhaps has taken place a long time before since we have always known termites to eat wood materials. Some scientists have theorized that the ancestral termites or the first termites in the world didn't consume wood materials but only cellulose materials from plants that are relatively softer than wood. At some point, they have developed their diet on feeding on wood materials when the inclusion of the parasites within their system took place.

Subterranean Termites: Ecological Behavior Study

Subterranean Formosan termites are actually the major pest of any human structures throughout the globe. Contrary to what most people believe, not all termite species are capable of destroying households. There are those termite species that only dwell in rainforests and never anywhere near residential households. The only termite species that are known to destroy houses are the subterranean Formosan termites. They alone are the ones capable of destroying a house within a matter of one week in its strongest assault. Believe it or not, the destruction brought about these species of termites is so considerable that if monetarily converted would amount to as much as billions of dollars of damages per year worldwide. In the endeavors to control these termite species from destroying more human properties, certain control methods were employed, like massive chemical treatments to ensure the elimination of an entire colony infesting a house. Throughout the years, these kinds of treatments are known to be quite effective in dealing with problems, incurring only negligible setbacks, this method of termite control is indeed the most efficient one. However, reports regarding severe side-effects to human health were growing over the years in employing chemical-oriented treatments that it lead to the banning of certain products. It is of no surprise that many of the chemical treatments that were popularly used before are no long in circulation as of today. Still, there are others that smuggle the products and continue to do so in marketing and using them even with prior precedence of chemical intoxication detriments.

Because of this fact, the dawn of a new scientific challenge is at hand. The challenge now is to find more environmentally friendly treatments that are sure not to harm any human beings in any level and in any way, as well as the environment safe from any harmful after effects while still being able to treat and control infestations that take place in the house. But that in itself entails a greater challenge to the scientists as the quest doesn't only begin with synthesizing the new formula in itself, but it will also entail the considerable amount of research in an effort to understand first the natural habitation of the termites. It is imperative that there should be a full comprehension first about the termites, sense of living, natural habitats, common environments when in transition, reproduction, methods in dividing labor, foraging, social interactions, and of course, the environmental influences of the creatures. When there is full comprehension of this matter, the possibilities of developing a highly efficient and effective, environmentally friendly termite control methods will be just within reach. It will also open the opportunity of tripartite discussions regarding the pros and cons of certain approaches as well a full value assessment of efficacy. It will also serve as a way to highlight certain grey areas of the study and identifying certain aspects that are still in need of further research and or development. This article aims to enlighten not only specific readers but all.


According to recent statistical findings, there is an estimated amount of 3 billion dollars of damages being incurred every year in wooden structures all over the United States with 80% of the total damage can be attributed to the subterranean termites. In Hawaii alone, a cost of 60 million dollars of property damage can be attributed to the Formosan termites. These figures only depict how economically significant termites are in the human economy. The previous application of the termite control methods were mostly failures because of the obvious lack of considerations to certain pertinent factors that crucially defines an effective means of dealing with the termites. Considerations like natural behaviors and habitation of these insects should be paid attention to in order to further improve the approaches in dealing with them. In the following years later, the trend has dramatically changed because of the reported side-effects of chemical treatments to human beings. This alone has been a crucial determinant for scientists to evolve their developing approaches of dealing with termite infestations in the US. Subsequently, the direction of the following researches is leading towards the development of biologically friendly and non toxic chemical treatment for termite control. The newer methods would include barriers variations, extreme temperature exposures, asphyxiant gases, other variations of biological control methods. All of the said fields are still in need of further development and research in their own respects. Another point of consideration for further researches is the consideration of the feasibility of colonial eradication in contrast to mere control methods alone, in context of the assumption that there will be much more considerable output if the approach is hinged solely on eradication alone rather than just controlling termites in entering human territories. However, it has been found out that the method of eradicating population is quite unfeasible under the context of using biological and non-toxic treatments in dealing with termites. Thus, further developments in counteracting termite infestations were unearthed, and more formulas, methods, techniques and strategies are being used to fully relinquish the destruction brought about the by the subterranean Formosan termites.

Under the subterranean Formosan termites is another genera of the species that still provide economical significance to humans. This genera is the Coptotermes and Reticulitermes. These species of termites are even considered economical equivalents to the general genera of termites. This species somehow originated in the Orient areas and were transported across the globe through infested wooden hulls and crates in ships. Now the rest of the world serves home to one of the most economically destructive creatures on earth. United States is also being infested by the same species and has economically suffered as well from the destruction they bring about. Statistically speaking, the catastrophe damage brought about by Formosan termites to human property, if accumulated would exceed the damage costs of any hurricane, earthquake, and fire damages combined. This is how damaging these species of termites can be and thus, the urgency of discovering newer and more effective methods are absolutely imperative.
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