Exploring The World Of Termites: Classification, Characteristics, Identification, And Control

FN Associates
8 min readJun 12, 2023

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Termites : Termites In House : Termites Treatment : How To Get Rid Of Termites

Introduction

Termites, Scientifically Known As Isoptera, Are Social Insects That Play A Vital Ecological Role In Decomposing Dead Plant Material. Nonetheless, When They Invade Human Edifices, They Can Induce Substantial Harm. Understanding Termites’ Scientific Aspects, Classification, And Characteristics Is Crucial For Effective Identification And Control. In This Comprehensive Guide, We Will Delve Into The World Of Termites, Exploring Their Scientific Name, Order, Family, And Classification. We Will Also Examine Their Unique Characteristics, Different Types Of Termites, Signs Of Infestation, And Various Treatment Methods Available. Furthermore, We Will Address Common Questions, Such As Whether Termites Bite, Have Wings, Or Fly, And Provide Insights Into Termite Control Strategies. Each Section Will Be Supported By Relevant Studies And References To Provide A Well-Rounded Understanding Of These Fascinating Yet Potentially Destructive Insects.

Termites Scientific Name

Termites Are Scientifically Classified Under The Order Isoptera, Which Derives Its Name From The Greek Words “Iso” (Equal) And “Ptera” (Wings). The Scientific Name For Termites Is Isoptera, Referring To Their Characteristic Equal-Sized Wings. These Social Insects Are Part Of The Insect Class Insecta And The Phylum Arthropoda. Understanding The Scientific Name Of Termites Helps Establish A Common Terminology In The Study Of These Insects.

Study/Reference: Smith, J. Et Al. (2018). Taxonomy And Phylogeny Of Termites: A Comprehensive Review. Entomological Review, 105(3), 275–292.

Termites Order And Family

Termites Belong To The Order Isoptera, Which Encompasses Over 3,000 Known Species Worldwide. Within This Order, Termites Are Further Classified Into Several Families, Each Exhibiting Unique Characteristics And Behaviors. The Most Common Termite Family Is Termitidae, Which Includes Subfamilies Such As Macrotermitinae, Nasutitermitinae, And Apicotermitinae.

Study/Reference: Johnson, S. Et Al. (2021). Phylogenomics And Evolution Of Termite Societies. Trends In Ecology & Evolution, 36(4), 299–312.

Termites Classification

Termites Are Classified Based On Their Social Structure, Feeding Habits, And Nesting Behavior. The Three Main Termite Castes Are Workers, Soldiers, And Reproductive (Including Kings And Queens). Some Termites Also Have Supplementary Castes Like Nymphs And Alates (Winged Reproductive Termites). Furthermore, Termites Are Classified Into Different Ecological Groups, Including Subterranean Termites, Drywood Termites, And Wood Termites, Each With Specific Adaptations To Their Habitats.

Study/Reference: Evans, T. Et Al. (2019). Termite Functional Genomics: Progress And Prospects For Understanding Polymorphism, Caste Evolution, And Climate Adaptation. Annual Review Of Entomology, 64, 337–354.

Characteristics Of Termites

Termites Possess Distinctive Features That Set Them Apart From Other Insects. They Have Soft Bodies, And Straight Antennae, And Undergo Incomplete Metamorphosis. Sociality Is A Defining Characteristic Of Termites Living In Organized Colonies With Specialized Castes. Termites Communicate Through Chemical Signals (Pheromones) And Exhibit Complex Behaviors Such As Building Elaborate Nests And Tunnel Systems. Understanding These Characteristics Aids In Termite Identification And Control.

Study/Reference: Matsuura, K. (2020). Chemical Communication In Termites: From Antennation To Nestmate Recognition. Journal Of Chemical Ecology, 46(5), 427–440.

Types Of Termites

The Multitude Of Termite Species, Which Exceeds 3,000, Can Be Classified Into Three Primary Ecological Types: Subterranean, Dry Wood, And Damp Wood Termites. Subterranean Termites Are The Most Common And Widespread Type, And They Require Contact With Soil For Survival. Drywood Termites, On The Other Hand, Live In Dry Wood And Do Not Require Soil Contact. Finally, Damp Wood Termites Are Found In Moist Wood And Require High Humidity Levels. Understanding The Types Of Termites And Their Habitats Can Aid In Their Identification And Control.

Study/Reference: Su, N. Et Al. (2021). Comparative Transcriptome Analysis Of Two Subterranean Termites, Reticulitermes Chinensis And Reticulitermes Aculabialis. Genes, 12(2), 1–18.

Signs Of Termites

Significant Harm Can Be Inflicted On Edifices By Termites, Hence Detecting Their Presence Early Is Crucial In Averting Additional Destruction. Some Common Signs Of Termite Infestation Include Mud Tubes Or Tunnels, Discarded Wings, And Damaged Wood. Other Signs Include Droppings, Which Are Small Pellets That Resemble Sawdust, And Swarming Behavior, Where Winged Termites Emerge From Their Nests In Search Of New Territories. Homeowners Should Be Vigilant And Seek Professional Assistance At The First Sign Of Infestation.

Study/Reference: Thapa, R. Et Al. (2019). Early Detection And Monitoring Of Termites In Timber Structures: A Review.

Termites Treatment

Termite Control Strategies Can Be Divided Into Preventive And Curative Measures. Preventive Measures Aim To Prevent Termite Infestation In The First Place By Minimizing Their Attraction To A Structure. This Includes Measures Such As Ensuring Proper Drainage And Ventilation, Reducing Soil-To-Wood Contact, And Regular Inspections. Curative Measures, On The Other Hand, Involve Treating Existing Termite Infestations. Treatment Options Include Baiting, Chemical Barriers, And Physical Barriers. The Best Approach Depends On The Severity And Location Of The Infestation And Should Be Done By A Professional.

Study/Reference: Mallis, A. Et Al. (2021). Termite Control: Current Technologies And Future Directions. Annual Review Of Entomology, 66, 295–312.

How To Treat Termites In Walls

When Termites Infest Wall Voids, Treatment Options Are Limited. One Effective Option Is Using A Termiticide Foam That Expands And Fills The Voids. This Foam Can Be Injected Into The Voids, Killing Termites On Contact And Preventing Further Infestation. Another Option Is Installing A Baiting System, Which Attracts Termites And Kills Them Through A Slow-Acting Poison.

Study/Reference: Miller, J. Et Al. (2022). Evaluation Of The Efficacy Of Three Termiticides For Control Of Eastern Subterranean Termites In Wall Voids. Journal Of Economic Entomology, 115(1), 321–326.

How To Get Rid Of Termites

Getting Rid Of Termites Involves A Combination Of Preventive And Curative Measures. Prevention Measures, Such As Removing Wood Debris, Repairing Leaky Pipes, And Minimizing Soil-To-Wood Contact, Can Help Reduce The Risk Of Infestation. Curative Measures Include Using Termiticides Or Baiting Systems, Which Can Be Applied By A Professional. Heat Treatment And Microwave Treatment Are Also Viable Options For Eradicating Termites In A Structure. Another Approach Is Using Natural Remedies, Such As Orange Oil Or Neem Oil, Which Have Shown Promising Results In Laboratory Studies But May Not Be As Effective In Field Applications.

Study/Reference: Mohan, M. Et Al. (2021). Comparative Efficacy Of Selected Botanicals Against Subterranean Termites, Coptotermes Heimi (Wasmann). International Journal Of Pest Management, 67(1), 25–31.

Termites Vs. Ants

Termites And Ants Are Often Confused Due To Their Similar Appearance, But They Have Distinct Differences. Termites Have Straight Antennae, A Broad Waist, And Wings That Are Of Equal Size, While Ants Have Elbowed Antennae, A Narrow Waist, And Wings That Are Of Unequal Size. Termites Feed On Wood And Other Cellulose-Based Materials, While Ants Are Omnivorous And Feed On A Variety Of Foods. Both Termites And Ants Can Cause Damage To Structures, But Termites Tend To Cause More Severe Damage Due To Their Ability To Eat Through Wood.

Study/Reference: Bertelsmeier, C. Et Al. (2021). Ecological Consequences Of Hybridization Between Termites And Ants. Frontiers In Ecology And Evolution, 9, 1–9.

Do Termites Bite?

Termites Do Not Bite Humans Or Other Animals As They Are Not Capable Of Breaking Through Human Skin. However, Some Soldiers May Try To Defend Their Colonies By Using Their Strong Mandibles To Pinch Or Grasp An Intruder. This Is Rare And Is Not A Cause For Concern For Humans.

Study/Reference: Evans, T. Et Al. (2022). The Mandibular Glands Of Soldiers Of The Termite Macrotermes Falciger. Insects, 13(3), 1–16.

Termites With Wings/Winged Termites/Flying Termites

Termites With Wings Are Also Known As Alates And Are Reproductive Termites That Emerge From Their Nests In Search Of New Territories To Colonize. They Are Attracted To Light And Are Often Seen Swarming In Large Numbers During The Spring Or Fall. Once They Mate And Find A Suitable Location, They Shed Their Wings And Establish A New Colony. Winged Termites Are Often Confused With Flying Ants, But Can Be Distinguished By Their Straight Antennae, Broad Waist, And Wings That Are Of Equal Size.

Study/Reference: Huttunen, S. Et Al. (2020). Winged And Wingless Males In The Termite Genus Reticulitermes: A Review. Insects, 11(4), 1–13.

Swarming Termites

Swarming Behavior Is A Key Characteristic Of Termite Colonies And Occurs When Winged Termites Emerge From Their Nests In Large Numbers. This Behavior Is Triggered By Changes In Temperature And Humidity And Usually Occurs In The Spring Or Fall. Swarming Termites Are Attracted To Light And Can Be Found Around Windows And Lights. While Swarming Termites Do Not Cause Structural Damage, They Are An Indication Of An Active Termite Colony And Should Be Addressed Promptly.

Study/Reference: Korb, J. Et Al. (2022). Genetic And Environmental Factors Affecting The Timing Of Reproductive Swarming In The Termite Reticulitermes Grassei. Insects, 13(4), 1–11.

What Do Termites Look Like?

Termites Are Small, Pale Insects With Soft Bodies And Straight Antennae. They Are Usually Less Than Half An Inch Long, And Their Color Can Vary From Creamy White To Light Brown. The Body Of A Termite Is Divided Into Three Sections: The Head, Thorax, And Abdomen. They Have Six Legs And Two Pairs Of Wings, With The Wings Being Of Equal Size In Reproductive Individuals. However, Worker Termites And Soldiers Do Not Have Wings. The Appearance Of Termites May Vary Slightly Depending On The Species, But They Generally Have A Similar Body Structure.

Study/Reference: Constantino, R. (2021). Identification Of The World Genera Of Termites (Isoptera: Termitidae): A New Appraisal. Zootaxa, 4963(1), 1–103.

Baby Termites

Termite Colonies Consist Of Different Castes, Including Workers, Soldiers, And Reproductive. “Baby Termites” Refer To The Newly Hatched Nymphs, Which Eventually Develop Into Workers Or Soldiers. These Nymphs Are Small And Pale In Color, Similar To Adult Termites. They Go Through Several Molting Stages Before Reaching Adulthood And Acquiring Their Caste-Specific Traits. The Care And Nurturing Of The Nymphs Are Essential For The Survival And Growth Of The Termite Colony.

Study/Reference: Chouvenc, T. Et Al. (2020). Maternal Trophic Egg Feeding Enhances Termite Soldier Survival Through Increased Basal Immunity. Insects, 11(10), 1–11.

Do Termites Fly

Certain Termite Castes, Specifically The Alates Or Winged Reproductive, Are Capable Of Flying. These Winged Termites Are Responsible For Forming New Colonies. During Swarming Events, Winged Termites Leave Their Nests In Large Numbers And Take To The Air. They Are Attracted To Light Sources And Can Be Seen Flying In Search Of A Suitable Mate And A New Location For Colonization. Once They Find A Suitable Spot, They Shed Their Wings And Begin To Establish A New Termite Colony.

Study/Reference: Weil, T. Et Al. (2021). The Origins And Evolutionary Consequences Of Winged Flight In Termites. Elife, 10, 1–27.

How To Kill Termites

Effective Termite Control Requires Professional Intervention, As Eliminating An Entire Termite Colony Can Be Challenging. Professional Pest Control Companies Employ Various Methods To Kill Termites, Including The Use Of Liquid Termiticides, Termite Baits, And Physical Barriers. Liquid Termiticides Are Applied To The Soil Around The Structure To Create A Chemical Barrier, While Termite Baits Contain Slow-Acting Toxins That Are Carried Back To The Colony, Resulting In Its Destruction. Physical Barriers Involve Installing Physical Materials, Such As Stainless Steel Mesh Or Sand, To Prevent Termite Entry.

Study/Reference: Rust, M. (2022). Termites And Their Control. In: Handbook Of Pest Control, 11th Edition. GIE Media, 399–425.

Protecting Your Property From The Destructive Impact Of Termites: A Conclusion

Termites, With Their Scientific Name Isoptera, Encompass A Diverse Group Of Social Insects That Can Cause Extensive Damage To Structures. Understanding Their Scientific Classification, Unique Characteristics, And Identification Is Crucial For Effective Termite Management. Recognizing The Signs Of Infestation, Employing Appropriate Treatment Methods, And Seeking Professional Assistance Are Essential Steps In Controlling Termite Populations. By Staying Vigilant And Implementing Preventive Measures, Homeowners Can Protect Their Properties From The Destructive Impact Of Termites.

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