Termites are wood-destroying insects of the Isoptera infraorder. There are three common types of termite: damp wood, dry wood, and subterranean. The subterranean termite is the most common termite species in India. They usually measure between ¼ and ½ of an inch long and range from white to light brown in colour.
Within a subterranean termite colony, there are three groups, or “castes” of colony members: workers, soldiers, and reproductives. Workers gather food, soldiers build shelter, and reproductives produce and tend to the larvae. The colony’s king and queen are the primary reproductives.
Interesting facts about termites:
1. Queen termites from the Termitidae family can produce 10 million eggs per year.
2. Termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world. Some termite queens may live between 30 and 50 years, reproducing annually and founding numerous colonies.
3. Some termite species’ queens can lay 15 to 25 eggs per minute--and over 40,000 per day.
4. There are over 2,700 termite species in the world.
5. Some varieties of termite species have existed on earth for over 250 million years.
6. Termites have sense organs located on their base of their antennae and tibiae that allow them to sense vibrations. Scientists have observed that some species choose which food sources to infest by sensing vibroacoustic signals emitted by various pieces of wood.
7. Soldier and reproductive termite castes can’t feed themselves. They must rely on workers to feed them by regurgitated digested cellulose into their mouths.¬
8. Each year, termites inflict more than 5 billion dollars worth of property damage.
9. Some species of termite build their colonies upward, creating building-like dirt mounds. In tropical areas such as parts of Africa, these mounds can become very large. Some measure over 30 feet high!