Termites are more closely related to cockroaches even if they are known as “white ants.” They have a well-organised social system with excellent engineering capabilities and survival instincts. There are more than 1,900 identified termite species, 350 of which can be found in Australian homes. And most of them are subterranean termites — they require contact with a constant source of moisture or soil.
To successfully eliminate termites from your property, you need to understand how they survive. Here are some of the scary termite facts homeowners must be aware of.
Termites feed on bark, leaves, and grass. Termites of economic importance eat starches, sugars, and cellulose obtained from wood.
Did you know that they are fussy eaters? They don’t attack all wood, and the wood they do feed on isn’t attacked equally. Different timber species have different types of resistance to termites because of the presence of distasteful chemicals, the wood density, or the palatability of the timber. No timber is actually “termite-proof.”
Subterranean termites hunt for food by means of galleries in the top 20cm of soil. This gallery system might exploit food sources more than a hectare in size with individual galleries over 50 metres. Their foraging activity is seasonal. Termites often aggregate in moist, warm areas that contain susceptible timber.
Since termites are prone to desiccation, they need a constant supply of moisture and maintain their nests at about 100% humidity. They use the moisture from the soil to preserve the humidity of the colony and to regulate temperatures from 25C to 36C.
Subterranean termites can survive even without soil contact, provided that they have a constant moisture supply. They favour decaying wood in moist areas because this provides them with moisture and protein.
Termites defend themselves through concealment because they have soft, weak exoskeletons and short legs. They move safely between places through the termite mud tubes. Because they are weak, they avoid areas that are used regularly.
Did you know that the colony detects the presence of toxins? Once they detect toxins, they seal off that part, sacrificing their selves to make sure that the nest survives. This is why most dust treatments are not effective – termites usually appear again after several months.
Whenever they are faced with a threat, they send out a warning signal to the colony by banging their heads, convulsing, and producing vibrations – the rest of the colony interprets this as a signal to evacuate promptly.
Did you know that termites don’t sleep? They work 24/7 until they die. Queen termites live up to 25 years and can produce approximately 10,000 offspring each year or one in every 15 seconds.
They can pass through cracks between concrete, wall frames, and floor tiles. Once they are disturbed, they spread into other areas of the property. So if you discover that they are infesting your home, avoid taking matters into your own hands. Instead, call a professional termite control company immediately.
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