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“Meet the family!” Members of the Termite Colony

termite family

Termites are some of the worst pests you’ll ever meet. But did you know that they have a society of their own? You better believe it! Ask the termite control expert nearest you and they’ll say the same. Like ants, bees, and other bugs, termites are social insects. They have separate castes for reproduction, labor and self-defense. They produce overlapping generations to collectively take care of their offspring. And they use decentralized, self-organized activity systems guided by swarm intelligence to find food sources and new habitats. Each colony houses hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

Below are the three main termite citizens that make up the colony:

Reproductive Termites

It’s already proven fact that a single termite colony contains more than one pair of king and queen. Most of them are black in color. An average mature queen can lay up to 30,000 eggs a day, making her swell in size and unable to move without assistance from other termites. As if that’s not enough, her king is there by her side, mating with her all their lives (termite queens have a life expectancy of up to 45 years). Alates or winged reproductive termites leave their colonies at ideal seasons, coupling with others in mating swarms and proceeding to establish new colonies. These winged insects have better developed eyes that most of their kin, although some worker termite specimen are known to have really good eyesight. They are also poor flyers, easily blown by winds less than 2 km/h.

Worker Termites

Laborers make up most of the population in a typical termite colony. They’re in charge of foraging for food as well as its storage, maintaining the queen’s nest and brood, and even defending some areas within the colony. They also happen to be the ones responsible for all the damages to human property. Due to their pale color, these workers have been dubbed “white ants,” a moniker used to call all termites despite having no relations with the ants. Generally all termites are blind and navigate in and around the colony using their antenna (a few species do have eyesight as mentioned above).

Soldier Termites

The termite military is yellow-brown in color, and they have larger heads and mandibles than workers and alates. Their jaws are so large that they need assistance eating, a task dutifully done by laborer termites. Like their reproductive counterparts, they have one primary task: to defend the colony against ants. Despite their best efforts, the only thing they’d be able to do should they battle their enemies is to hold them off long enough for the workers to close off the colony entrances. Sometimes, the soldier’s overlarge head is used to clog the tunnels. However, they can do nothing further once their home is overrun.

termite queen

Kind of reminds you of the Zerg alien race in Star Craft, doesn’t it? Thankfully, they’re not that big, or else you’ll really be in trouble. If there’s an infestation of termites in your home then don’t bother getting to know them — seek professional help immediately.


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