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Understanding Termite Behavior

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Termites are truly an annoying pest. In fact, a termite infestation can actually be dangerous to your home, if they eat away supporting beams in your ceiling and floor. Understanding the behaviors of termites can help you get a grasp on why these buggers do what they do. It can also help you and your pest exterminator find deeply rooted termites in your home.

Termite Castes

Individual termite behavior will vary depending on its caste. Termite castes include the following:

  • Queens. they are the largest termites and are important primarily for reproduction.
  • Kings: these termites are primarily responsible for fertilizing the queen. They don't do much else and tend to stay close to the queen.
  • Workers: most visible termites are workers. They do all the hard work, such as gathering food and building structures in the colony.
  • Soldiers: the knight of the colony, this caste is designed with a larger pincher and a more aggressive personality. They defend the colony against invaders.
  • Swarmers: tiny winged termites that appear in the early spring to spread the colony beyond the limits of your yard.

Termite Diet

Obviously, termites are well known for eating dead wood. That's what makes them so dangerous to your home: they don't differentiate between wood in a natural environment and wood in your home.

However, termites will also eat decomposed plants, dead grass, dung, grass, fungus, mosses, and even animal feces. In fact, most termites are capable of digesting most kinds of cellulose, including corn.

Termite Life Span

One of the toughest parts of dealing with termites is their long lifespan. Although individual workers and soldiers live little more than one to two years, they are constantly being replaced by the queen.

And how long does the queen live? In certain, ideal, circumstances (where food is plentiful and the colony established in a safe shelter), the termite queen can live for decades. And spawn even more queens. As long as the queen is alive and well fed, a termite colony can live indefinitely.

Termite Reproduction and Settlement

Termites expand their colony during the early spring months. Annoying winged swarmers will appear and fly away from the initial settlement. There are both male and female swarmers, and they mate in mid-flight.

Once they land, they immediately seek out a dark, damp area filled with wood. For example, they may seek out shelter in your wood pile or sneak into a crack in your basement and work their way into your wooden walls. Once there, the new queen gives birth to workers that begin building a new colony.

And that's the number one reason you need to contact a pest control expert (such as one from Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services) as soon as possible. While your homemade remedies may help limit termite colony spread, a termite exterminator will completely eliminate these problem insects from your home and property.