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Types of Termites
By Frank Reece

Termites come in two basic types; those which reside completely within wood, and those which tunnel and create colonies in the ground.

Of the two, the wood residing type is less evolved. They build their colonies inside of dead trees, or logs. These will live only as long as there is dead wood to consume. The entire colony dies after all of the dead wood is gone. These types of colonies very rarely sustain more than a few thousand termites. Termites are social insects.

Each termite has a specific role. In terms of termites, this is known as a caste system. The wood living have a less evolved caste system than their ground dwelling brethren. They do not have true "workers." The workers in these colonies are simply older nymphs who have undergone a regressive molt. These then stay and aid their parents to raise more brothers and sisters. The soldiers have big orange heads and long toothed jaws. These soldiers protect their wooden homes by attacking invaders. Ants and are especially fierce enemies. Most of the nymphs in these colonies will grow into winged termites, referred to as alates. These alates at a specific time of year will then fly away from the colony, and go establish new colonies elsewhere.

Among the wood inhabiting termites, there are various specialists such as rotten wood termites, damp wood and dry wood termites. The which give humand the greatest amount of grief are the dry wood termites. They are chiefly responsible for munching on houses and furniture. All types of wood living produce tiny fecal pellets. If dry decided to take up residence within your home or furniture, you'll probably observe their



pellets before you see the termites. Termite's fecal pellets are coarse and sand like.

The other type of termite, and most prevalent are the subterranean termites. These like to tunnel into the soil to create their colony. Because they can dig through the ground they can find many different sources of wood. They are not limited to the wood in the immediate area like the wood dwelling are. Because there is more food, these colonies can range from hundreds of thousands to several million. The queen termite of ground colonies is usually always pregnant.

The subterranean have a more advanced caste system then the wood inhabiting termites. Subterranean have true workers. The subterranean also have soldiers. These soldiers use a type of chemical warfare. They have a gland on their head which secretes a defensive chemical. The subterranean termite soldiers also have much more advanced jaws. Their jaws can be sword like, serrated, toothed, hooked, rod like, etc.Some soldiers have extraordinary snapping mandibles. In another group, the mandibles are regressed to tiny points while the defensive gland is produced forward as a nose; these are the nasute termites.

Many subterranean have different types of diet. They can eat grass, humus or dung, in place of wood. Subterranean in tropical climates are also notable architects. These build nests or mounds which are usually very well built and largeLike their wood dwelling brethren, subterranean can also be a nuisance to a home owner. However, they do not leave behind fecal pellets. The best clue about their infestation is if you see mud shelter tubes on your walls.


Frank Reece has been in the industry for 25 years. You can find his articles on www.linkmyarticles.com.

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