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termites in the ground near a florida home

What You May Not Know About Termites

In: Termite Control

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When I say termites, what happens to your skin? Does it prickle up? Does it get a degree hotter? What if I say, termite, termite, termite? Are you feeling it? There is a reaction. It might be subtle for you, but it's there. The mere thought of termites produces a fear response--and for good reason. This little insect is responsible for over $5 billion dollars of property damage each year. And, if it sets its eyes on your home, you might be looking at thousands in repairs. Or even foreclosure. But this isn't what I want to talk with you about today. We all know that termites are home wreckers. But there are some fascinating things you may not know about termites, that could change the way you look at them.

Your first instinct, when the word termite pops into your head, is probably one of hostility. The world would be a better place without termites, right? Well, the truth is, the world needs these little home wreckers. They have a very important job. They turn dead trees into fertilized soil, one bite and one bowel movement at a time. Now, you might think me crass to have thrown in the words "bowel movement", but these are actually very important to the subject. If you're squeamish, you might want to jump to the next paragraph, where I continue to talk about other fascinating facts about termites. Okay. Now that it's just us, I can talk freely. Termites have a very nasty practice of eating each others feces. It might seem revolting, but it plays an important role in how they decompose wood. You see, termites don't do this work alone. They need microorganisms to live inside their bellies, to help them break down cellulose and tough plant fiber. But these microorganisms aren't there at birth. They are ingested with the feces. The scientists call this trophallaxis. Let's use that word from now on.

Although termites engage in trophallaxis and spend most of their time in the dirt, they actually put a high priority on staying clean. Much of their day is spent grooming each other, in order to keep harmful bacteria under control within the colony.

In termite colonies, males play an important role. Unlike wasps and bees, termite dads stick around to fertilize eggs and share in the parental duties with their queen. And, the queens aren't the only ones that get wings, those termite dads sport a set too.

The termite workers and soldiers aren't so fortunate. Not only do they not get wings, they're born blind. Since they spend their entire lives in the moist dark soil, they have no need for eyesight. That's quite a life, isn't it?

The last little tidbit that may make you think differently about termites, is the fact that they actually communicate with each other. With the release of pheromones, termites can affect each other's behavior--in a way, talk to each other. Termite queens even control growth and the role of her young by introducing these pheromones into the trophallaxis process (those of you who stuck with me know what I'm talking about). It may be disgusting, but it is also fascinating. Through smells, they actually communicate with each other.

So, the point I hope you take from this article, is that termites are amazing creatures with very disgusting tendencies. The world needs them, because they are vital to the production of rich soil, but you can live without them in your home. If you don't have a pest management company monitoring your home, learn more about getting your home monitored today.

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