Termites have successfully invaded nearly all habitats and can use dry, wet, above—ground, and below-ground wood for food and nesting sites. They live in highly organized colonies, with each individual having distinct responsibilities and the body form to match its task. Workers are small, search for food, and maintain the colony; soldiers are large and defend the colony; and the queens simply lay eggs.


Termites have incomplete metamorphosis, the development stages are egg, nymph, and adult. Termite colonies have a functional male (or king) to mate with the queen in the nest. This is different than ants, for which only the female survives after the mating flight, and total egg production is limited by the single mating during that flight. In termite colonies, mating and egg production is ongoing throughout the long life of the queen. Development consists of a series of nymphal stages; these individuals develop into soldiers and workers, and they are recognized by their size and task in the colony. Swarmers are males and females, and usually are produced annually.


Dispersal of winged termites (swarmers) from colonies is an important means of establishing new colonies. Swarmers are produced by well-established colonies, and this occurs three to five years after the colony founding. The release of these winged forms is usually restricted to certain times of year, and specific times of day.

Swarming is synchronized with regional and local weather conditions;

It occurs during warm months in temperate regions. Soldiers and workers excavate exit holes and protect the emerging swarmers. The number of swarmers produced can be as much as 43% of the total individuals in the colony.


Drywood termite nests are not built in contact with the soil; they depend on wood moisture for suitable conditions for the colony. Infestations may go unnoticed because their feeding leaves a thin veneer of

wood at the surface that hides the damage. Their rounded fecal pellets are ejected from the galleries, and

piles of these pellets are a sign of infestation. Dampwood termites infest wet and decayed wood, but feeding can extend to sound wood. Subterranean termite nests are built in soil or in wood buried in soil, but the termites also forage above ground. Secondary above ground nests are connected to the primary nest in the soil by shelter tubes.


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