Have you ever found the world of insects interesting, or even frightening? While termites can cause great damage to homes or property, they lead an interesting life and serve an important role in the outdoors.
Get to know a little more about the fascinating life of termites with these 10 fun facts.
1. Termites Play an Important Role in the Circle of Life
While we don’t want them in our homes, the great outdoors is a better place thanks to termites. As dead trees fall into the soil, termites are natural decomposers who recycle decaying wood while improving and aerating the soil. The forest just wouldn’t be the same without them.
2. Microorganisms Help Termites Digest Food
How do these little insects do so much damage to wood? It’s because they have a gut full of microorganisms that help them break down cellulose or plant fibers.
3. Termite Dads Help Raise the Young
Unlike male bees who die after mating, termite kings don’t leave their offspring. After a queen’s eggs are fertilized, the termite king stays to help feed the young with predigested food.
4. Termites Eat Feces
It’s true. Termites eat each other’s poop. They do this because they’re not born with the microorganisms (see #2) they need inside of them to munch on food.
5. Most Termites Are Blind
Soldier termites don’t need to see in the dark. They can perform their duties by instinct alone. The only termites with eyesight are the reproductive termites because they need to see to fly and find their mates.
6. Termites Warn Each Other of Impending Threats
When sensing a threat, soldier termites bang the walls of their tubes to warm other termites of impending doom.
7. Termites Communicate via Pheromones
Termites use chemical scents, known as pheromones, to share information with one another. Fellow termites guide other workers by leaving scent trails from their glands. Each termite colony has their own scent.
8. Termites Take Time for Grooming
What’s there to groom? You may be surprised at just how much time termites spending grooming themselves and others. In fact, grooming is important for their survival. If they didn’t put effort into staying clean, they would be subject to harmful bacteria and parasites.
9. Some Termites Can Fly
Only the queens and kings can fly. They use their wings to leave the colony, search for potential mates, and start their own colony. Once they find their new home, they break off their wings and settle down to raise their offspring.
10. Long Live the Queen
Termite queens are much bigger than worker termites. They can be several inches long and as big around as a pencil. Even crazier, termite queens can live for decades.
While termites get a bad rap for structural damage in homes or buildings, they are fascinating insects and a valuable part of our natural ecosystem.