Termite Control

Termites Threaten Economic Stability In Hundreds Of Countries All Over The World

Termites Threaten Economic Stability In Hundreds Of Countries All Over The World

 

Termites cannot get enough cellulose, and many of them do not mind eating-away at live plants and trees in order to get their fix. Termites do not pose a significant threat to crops within the United States, but in some countries termites are more of a threat to crops than they are to man-made structures. This is especially true in agrarian countries where agriculture is the largest sector of the economy. In the majority of countries termites are either considered secondary or primary crop pests. Most of the time termites are considered secondary pests. However, this does not necessarily mean that termites are less damaging to plants than primary insect pests.

 

Secondary pests only damage plants that have already been compromised by primary pests or environmental conditions. For example, some primary insect pests may drill holes into plant stems or vines. This is damaging enough to plant life, but then termites move in to cause further damage. Reproductive termites will locate these damaged plants while swarming. The reproductives enter the wounds of compromised plant stems or vines in order to start a new colony. Once a termite colony begins to grow within these plants, the entire stock will snap under the weight of the growing termite colony, thus destroying the plant. This is why termites cannot be dismissed as unimportant insect pests. In most cases, primary insect pests do not inflict enough damage on plants to kill them. It is actually the damage inflicted by secondary pests that ends up giving the final blow.

 

Termites are especially damaging to cacao plantations located within several African countries. In Zanzibar termites directly attack the seedlings in clove plantations, and the seedlings of coconut palms are destroyed by termites directly. Coconut seedlings are consumed by subterranean termites, while mature palms are killed by drywood termites. Termite damage to palm trees is most prevalent in Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. Coffee and Sugarcane crops located in African, Asian, Middle Eastern and South American countries are also attacked regularly by termites. In Arab and African countries termites often infest cotton crops. Luckily, American cotton crops are not vulnerable to termites, but the reason for this is not exactly known. Even fully developed and industrialized countries, like Japan, contain crops that are attacked ruthlessly by termites. Japanese agricultural officials often find large termite populations within batches of pre-processed rice. Termites also attack a multitude of different trees, but eucalyptus is highly prized by termites. Not long ago, a housing developer used eucalyptus for landscaping people’s homes. Unfortunately, this eucalyptus only invited several termite infestations onto the property. Relatively speaking, the United States may see the least amount of damaging termite activity.

 

Do you believe that a non-native species of termite will be introduced into America at some point in the future?

Why Do Termite Queens Live Ten Times Longer Than Their Offspring?

Why Do Termite Queens Live Ten Times Longer Than Their Offspring?

 

Most insects do not live long lives, but queens belonging to groups of social insects live significantly longer lives than their offspring. Queens belonging to wasp, bee and ant colonies all live for longer periods of time than other colony members. Of all the social insects that exist, termite colonies possess the most impressive queens. Termite queens amaze people on account of their large bodies and their incredibly long lifespans. For example, queens belonging to the Macrotermes natalensis species can grow up to a full six inches in length, which dwarfs their tiny offspring. Termite queens can also lay up to seven thousand eggs per day and they can live as long as fifty years. Researchers have long wondered how termite queens can live for unusually long amounts of time. Now recent research is showing that queen termites age more gracefully than other termites thanks to antioxidants.

 

Japanese researchers have recently discovered that termite queens possess a unique antioxidant system that enables them to live much longer than non-reproductive termites. For the experiment the researchers compared Japanese termite queens to workers. The researchers examined levels of oxidative damage and they analyzed enzyme expression in order to find anti-aging mechanisms in queen termites. The researchers found that termite queens had less oxidative damage to their DNA, proteins and lipids when compared to workers. The researchers also found that termite queens and workers both possessed antioxidant-producing genes, but queens showed higher expression-levels for these genes. These two genes produce important antioxidative enzymes that are known as catalase and peroxiredoxin. These enzymes were more active in queen termites than workers, which helps explain the queen’s longevity. The researchers learned that queen termites possess efficient antioxidative systems that make use of enzymes that prevent oxidative damage to cells. Worker termites did not produce nearly as much of these antioxidative enzymes. These enzymes act as anti-aging mechanisms that are are expressed more frequently in queen termites than they are in worker termites.

 

Why do you think that king termites live much shorter lives than queen termites?

Termites Panic When Ants Invade Their Nests, Unless The Invading Ants Bring Alcohol

Termites Panic When Ants Invade Their Nests, Unless The Invading Ants Bring Alcohol

 

Ants and termites do not get along well. Some ant species spend much of their time going to war with termites. These ant species will travel and wreak havoc from termite nest to termite nest. When a few termites in a colony can sense an impending invasion, an alarm cue is sent to the rest of the colony. Once every soldier and worker termite within a colony receives these alarm cues, the termites will mobilize within their nests in order to prepare for the coming ant attack. Once ants gain access to a termite nest, a massacre normally ensues. In these cases ants are almost always the winners. Although most termites would freak-out if they sensed enemy ants within their nests. One particular group of termite-hunting ants does not seem to bother termites, even after the ants gain access to their nests. It is rare for a termite colony to remain calm when ants begin to invade their nests. Why would termites remain calm when their ant enemies gain access to their nests? To put it simply, the termites are fooled by a “non-visual” sort of camouflage used by aggressive ants.

 

The ant species known as Decamorium velense is one example of an ant species that invades termite nests undisturbed as a result of their unique form of camouflage. The Decamorium velense species, and many other ant species, eventually invade termite nests by first sending out a scout to locate termite nests that are well suited for invasions. Once the scout locates a nest, it signals around thirty other ants in order to begin an invasion. Once this occurs the nesting termites do not seem off-put by their new ant roommates. However, the ants quickly start to immobilize their termite pray without drawing the attention of other nesting termites. It turns out that this species of ant secretes aliphatic ketones and aldehydes (alcohol). The first listed substance sends termites into a panic, but the second substance, which is basically alcohol, does not. The scent of alcohol obscures the ketone secretions, therefore termites only smell the alcohol, which is why they do not panic. Later studies showed that any type of ant that secretes alcohol may go unnoticed by their termite prey.

 

Do you think that ants developed the ability to secrete alcohol solely to remain unnoticed by their termite?

 

 

How Are Termites Different From Other Social Insects?

How Are Termites Different From Other Social Insects?

 

Although termites are social insects like bees, ants, and wasps, termites are not closely related to other social insects. All insects that live in social groups belong to the insect order known as Hymenoptera, except for termites. The Hymenoptera order includes bees and ants, but termites belong to an order all their own. This order is referred to as Isoptera. Surprisingly, termites are more closely related to cockroaches than any type of social insect. The social order of termites appeared on earth long before other forms of social insects. Although termites are not closely related to other social insects, there are still many similarities between Hymenoptera and Isoptera insects.

 

Unlike termites, social insects such as bees, ants and wasps hatch from eggs as larva before going through a sudden metamorphosis that is similar to how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. This metamorphosis brings bees, ants and wasps into full adulthood in just one step. Termite metamorphosis is more gradual, and is similar to the development of roaches, grasshoppers and many other insects. Termites pass through developmental stages by moulting. With each moult, a termite’s exoskeleton is discarded and a new stage of maturation is reached. However, termites are unique in that workers and soldiers do not moult beyond the juvenile stage. This is why termite workers and soldiers lack sexual organs as well as eyes. Eye development among individual termites can vary somewhat, but eyesight is, at the very least, weak. This lack of eyesight makes sense given the darkness of termite habitats. Termites do not require eyesight to function. Sexual organs are not needed since workers and soldiers do not exist for fulfilling reproductive duties.

 

Termites are also the only social insects that have kings in their colonies. Other social insects like bees, ants and wasps live in colonies that contain only a queen. These queens mate only once and store sperm for the duration of their lives. Termite bodies are also notably less durable than the bodies of other social insects. This may be due to the protection that termite mounds and underground nests offer termites. Other social insects live in nests that are not as well protected against predators. Beehives, for example, are well exposed to predators, which means individual bees must have durable bodies for defending themselves against predatory attacks. The stunted growth of termites makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

 

Have you ever heard of a social species of insect that was not a termite, bee, ant or wasp?

Villagers Bless The Ground To Keep Termites Away From A Newly Constructed Hospital

Villagers Bless The Ground To Keep Termites Away From A Newly Constructed Hospital

 

The world is full of superstitions, most of which may seem pretty silly. However, when it comes to the people living in the village of Tabernacle on the island of St. Kitts, a bit of superstition can bring a lot of comfort. For the past several years, the people of Tabernacle have not had access to a medical care facility. This lack of medical care resulted from a widespread termite infestation that was never treated in the village’s last hospital. The termite infestation eventually rendered the previous hospital uninhabitable. The termites destroyed so much of the last hospital that at one point the basement served as the only functioning part of the hospital. Obviously the basement was not adequate for the town’s population size. The basement did not last for long, as the entire structure was quickly demolished. For years the population of Tabernacle survived without access to medical care.

 

Recently the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis decided to fund the rebuilding of a medical center in Tabernacle. Understandably, the residents of Tabernacle became ecstatic when they realized a new medical center was going to be built in their town. In fact, a ground-blessing ceremony was held at the site of the new medical center. Many superstitious residents are blessing the ground with the hopes that the blessing will keep subterranean termites away from the soil that will soon lie beneath the new medical center. The blessing-ceremony included a large amount of participants despite the fact that the soil had already been treated heavily with insecticides. A vast area of soil at the construction site was treated with a large amount of insecticide solution that is specifically designed to kill subterranean termites.

 

The new medical center being built in Tabernacle is not a small-scale construction effort. The new medical center will cost nearly two and a half million dollars. The new medical center will include a daycare, exercise facilities, environmental health services, and of course, human healthcare service. This new hospital will provide relief for those suffering from terminal diseases, and children can finally be administered immunization shots. China’s Government donated one million US dollars to the construction project.

 

Do you think that termites will infest the new hospital after the ground insecticides wear-off?

 

 

Several Houses Will Have To Be Demolished Due To Extensive Termite Damages

Several Houses Will Have To Be Demolished Due To Extensive Termite Damages

 

Living in a home that is infested with bed bugs would be terrible. However, unlike termites, a bed bug infestation will not result in a home’s eventual demolition. Normally, termite infestations are eradicated promptly as soon as they are discovered. But in some situations, landlords may ignore termite infestations that are occuring on their property. This is never a wise idea, as unchecked termite infestations can eventually lead to entire houses being reduced to rubble. This scenario is becoming a reality for several landlords in the city of Bellaire, Ohio. After several months of issuing warnings, one inspector in the city is having several houses labeled as “condemned”. These homes will have to be demolished due to extensive damages. Termite infestations are to blame in many of these cases.

 

According to Dick Flanagan, a Bellaire Code Enforcement Officer, some homes may appear structurally sound despite being hazardous to the people living within them. This is why Flanagan believes that a home’s internal conditions should also be investigated during routine inspections. As a result of Flanagan’s relatively thorough approach toward home inspections, many more homes than usual are being deemed “unlivable”. Termite damage is often cited as one of the reasons for a home’s condemnation under Flanagan’s authority. In one case, Flanagan noticed a termite infestation on one questionable home while being interviewed by a local news station. In this case, Flanagan noticed the visible infestation before he entered the house. Despite the vast amounts of snow that draped the home, an active termite nest was still discovered from the outside.

 

Flanagan began citing several landlords in the city last fall for code violations. Many of these warnings went ignored by the homeowners. Now that several months have passed, Flanagan is having many of these homes condemned and scheduled for demolition. So far two houses and one commercial property have already been torn down under Flanigan’s watch.

 

Do you believe that home inspectors should take a hard-line approach toward termite infestations that are discovered in homes?

 

 

Researchers Revise The Theory Concerning The Mysterious “Fairy Circles” Made By Termites

Researchers Revise The Theory Concerning The Mysterious “Fairy Circles” Made By Termites

 

Before recently, researchers were unable to explain how a vast amount of circular land formations came to exist in the Namib Desert of southern Africa. These formations have been referred to as “fairy circles”. One of these previous blog articles specifically addressed the well supported theory that these circular formations were formed as a result of termite activity. But now, many researchers are beginning to question the initial theories concerning the origin of fairy circles. Most experts still believe that termites played a part in the formation of fairy circles. However, the process that caused these land formations may be more complicated than the initial termite-related theory had suggested. The most recent theory states that the circles were formed as a result of interactions between termites and plants.

 

The mysterious existence of fairy circles has long fascinated people all over the world. For decades several different theories have been proposed. Some of these origin theories even involve aliens and mythological gods. It seems reasonable to believe the initial origin theory that suggested termite mounds, which are circular at the base where they make contact with the ground, caused these ring-shaped ground formations. Since termite mounds contain more nutrients and water than surrounding areas of desert, permanent circular shapes remain in the ground long after the mounds erode. This theory was further supported by the fact that termite mounds are usually evenly spaced from other mounds, much like the remaining circular shapes found in the Namib Desert. However, two scientists, Dr. Pringle and his colleague Dr. Corina Tarnita, created a mathematical model supporting a new theory that suggests fairy circles were created by both termites and plants.

 

The model showed simulated plants growing around the moist outer ring of termite mounds. The plants grew in areas of desert that were picked by termites as ideal mound locations. The simulated model resulted in plant vegetation growing around termite mounds that were spaced at even distances. These distances were similar to the distances between the modern fairy circles. Some critics of the theory claim that this proposed explanation needs be field tested. Also, fairy circles were recently discovered in regions of Australia where termite activity is rare. This suggests that termites may not be a part of fairy circle formation at all. Ultimately, the new theory has pushed the origin of fairy circles back into the realm of mystery.

 

Do you think that the fairy circles found in Australia could have been made by ancient termites that are now extinct in the area?

A New Species Of Termite Was Recently Discovered

A New Species Of Termite Was Recently Discovered

Termites are well known for having lived on this planet for an incredibly long amount of time. Termites are one of the oldest living insect species that still exist today. Termites have had plenty of time to disperse into a multitude of different species. Nearly twenty five hundred different termite species have been discovered so far. And there are plenty more species that have not yet been described by researchers. The amount of individual termites that are living at this very moment is astronomical. You are probably aware of the fact that termites are relatively small insects. Most of them are not even as large as common ants. Despite their minute size, the total combined weight of all termites in the world would double the combined weight of the human population. It is understandable that many species of termites have yet to be discovered given their tiny sizes. However, discovering new termite species is more common than you may think. In fact, not so long ago an entirely new species was discovered in India. The new species is now referred to as Glyptotermes Chiraharitae.

The new species of termite was discovered in the Malabar region of India. Termites are particularly numerous and relatively troublesome in the country of India. But this new species is most likely not a pest to humans. This new species has already been determined to be a member of one of three different types of termites. These types include, subterranean, dampwood, and drywood. The new species belongs to the dampwood group of termites. Like most dampwood termites, Glyptotermes Chiraharitae termites do not require contact with the soil like subterranean termites do. This new species dwells solely on wood. These termites are especially numerous in areas of forest land where rotting and decayed trees can be found. Although the eating habits of this new termite species has yet to be determined, its relatives are known for feeding on mango, sal, banyan trees, Rhododendron, Artocarpus, silver oak, and jamun trees. Some experts believe that this newly discovered species is related to a notorious pest to tea bushes in Sri Lanka.

Do you think that the amount of termites that have not yet been discovered outnumber the amount that have been described by researchers?

How Did The “Termites In Mulch” Myth Start?

How Did The “Termites In Mulch” Myth Start?

The question of whether or not mulch can contain termites has been answered by experts repeatedly over the years. This question has also been explored by this blog in the past. Anybody who has researched this topic for themselves has learned that termites cannot, in fact, be found living within store-bought mulch. There are a variety of factors that make termite-infested bags of mulch a near certain impossibility. Despite the fact that this myth has been debunked by experts over and over again, it continues to persist. But how did this myth start? Strangely enough, the Louisiana State Agricultural Center posted a warning on their website back in 2005 and 2006 warning people about the risks of exporting termite-infested mulch from several counties within the state. During this time all exports that contained wood or cellulose material were to be prevented from leaving certain counties in Louisiana following the Katrina and Rita hurricanes. Obviously, this quarantine caused concern among many gardeners and landscapers around the United States. But even more damaging than the Ag center’s warning was an email that had been circulated to citizens all over the US. This email specifically mentioned popular home improvement stores as possibly selling termite-infested mulch that had been imported from Louisiana. This email began to circulate shortly after the LSU Ag Center announced their quarantine of wood-containing materials.

The quarantine announcement that was posted by LSU aimed to prevent wood that had been infested with Formosan subterranean termites from leaving areas of Louisiana. The wood that had been categorized as a risk included mulch, but there was no mention of termite-infested mulch showing up in major home improvement chain locations, like Home Depot. This is because termites cannot survive the various stages that mulch processing goes through before it is bagged and shelved for sale in stores. Selling quarantined wood from Louisiana as a material to create mulch would have been illegal at the time. It is possible that some quarantined wood may have been sold illegally as mulch to smaller retailers. The viral email was misleading and downright false, as it suggested that termite-infested mulch imported from Louisiana was being sold at large retailers. In fact, one major mulch retailer, Home Depot, only sells mulch that has been certified by the Mulch and Soil Council (MSC). This council does not, nor ever has, certified mulch from the New Orleans area. Some experts insist that there have been rare cases in which termites have traveled in bags of mulch during shipping. However, even in these cases, it is virtually impossible that the termites would still be living within the bags of mulch once they arrived in stores. Although the email’s claims have been debunked as false by many experts, the consequences of the email are still present in the fears of many gardeners and landscapers today.

If you have used mulch for several years, do you remember when the “termite in mulch” scare was at its height?

Termites Are The Most Evolved Creatures On The Planet

Termites Are The Most Evolved Creatures On The Planet

Imagine what the world was like two hundred million years ago. Two hundred million years is an incomprehensibly long span of time. Dinosaurs were just beginning to conquer the world, and all other animals would be considered  bizarre looking to modern man. There are not many animals in existence today that lived alongside the earliest dinosaurs. Termites are an exception, as their existence began more than two hundred million years ago. Because of this, many experts consider termites to be the most evolved organisms on the planet today. Surprisingly, even the earliest termite species were eusocial. The complicated sociality of termites must not have taken long to evolve. One hundred million years after the first termites came into existence, Formosan termites evolved. Formosan termites altered the way in which termites behaved socially. Since then, termites became more ferocious and more willing to forage in unfamiliar environments, despite the many predators that surrounded them in these unexplored regions. This newfound boldness and change in foraging behavior is the reason why the termites of today do not hesitate to infest areas that are inhabited by humans. Modern termites have no fear when it comes to living off of humans. People’s homes provide shelter and food for termites at the expense of homeowners. But early termites were far more timid than the ones we know and hate today. So what changed?

Entomologists agree that termites have experienced dramatic evolutionary shifts over the long course of their existence. For example, termites love to feed on timber-framed homes because they subsist on cellulose, which is abundant in most modern homes. But the earliest termites were probably not able to digest cellulose. However, the first termites probably still fed on tiny pieces of rotting wood. The wood contained tiny microorganisms that are still in the guts of modern termites. These microorganisms caused wood to rot. Since the microorganisms caused the degradation of the wood, they also helped to break down cellulose that wound up in termite bellies. Eventually this led termites to feed exclusively on the cellulose in wood and plant matter. If the earliest existing termites had not occasionally munched on rotting wood, then the microbes contained on the rotting wood never would have found permanent residence in the guts of termites, and many people around the world would be much happier.

Do you think that termites are born with the cellulose destroying microbes in their bodies, or do young termites acquire the microbes from their colony members?