Many of us have never paid attention to termites and how they relate. Those who have come across them will say they are a nuisance since what they mostly do is destroy. Termites tend to differ from other insects in that they live and organize themselves in social colonies. The colony can vary in size from two termites (king and queen) to more than a million.
From the scientific view; termites are seen to be social insects, and they belong to the same order as cockroaches. It is funny enough that one may categorize them to be from the same family as ants since some call them white ants; but they are not. A termite colony will contain several castes including young termites, workers, soldiers, nymphs and those responsible for reproduction. This is dependent on the species, and their physical features can differentiate the castes.
Let’s focus on how the termite colony works:
The worker termites
Workers comprise the largest group in most colonies with no wings and soft bodies. They are indeed numerous and destructive in nature. You will find them on walls especially wooden ones or floor joists in a home. They are white in color and use their antennae to navigate since they are blind. In some colonies, the immature termites or sterile adults serve as workers. This caste is responsible for getting food to the colony, caring for the other termites especially the nymphs and eggs, and constructing the physical colony. Subterranean worker termites mix mud, feces, and saliva to build mud tunnels to and from the food source.
They are the colony protectors. They are different from the others in terms of their appearance. They are larger than their counterparts and have a pale yellow-brown color. The heads and mandibles are enlarged, and the enlarged jaws prevent them from feeding. They are always helped to eat by the workers. The one and only function of the warrior is to keep the colony safe and defend it from attacks. They also lead the colony to war when they want to attack other colonies, but the major threat is ants.
Reproductive termites are the most important in the colony structure with their work being to procreate. They have darker bodies which distinguish them from the others. The young ones in this category are referred to as alates, and they possess wings. When the weather is humid with the correct moisture levels both male and females in this caste, contribute in mating swarms, and after, they land and shed wings. These will now go and form new colonies where they will serve as kings and queens with the responsibility to reproduce.
A queen in the termite colony is the largest when it comes to size. She has a mass several times more than the workers. In most colonies, you’ll find a large white-colored termite with a small head. Her leading role in the colony is to lay eggs which can be thousands in a day. In some colonies, the king or queen can be replaced by individuals in the colony when they die.
Termites are fascinating when one takes a keen study of their behavior and how they function. Despite them being destructing, they have their own way of living, and each termite has its own task depending on the group. The colony structure works like an organized government of termites where everything works perfectly with the role carriers. So, if you are seeing termites as destroyers, then you have an insight of how they work their organization.