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Termites : Anthropods

Animal Group: Anthropod
Class: Insecta
Order: Isoptera

Interesting Facts:

  • Termite guts contain bacterial protozoa. This bacterium can break down wood and organic cellulose. The bacteria turn the wood into fuel so the termites can continue to work and build their colony.
  • Alaska is the only state in America without termites.
  • These insects are categorized into two groups – dampwood termites and dry wood termites.
  • There are over 2,000 termite species on earth.
  • Important Role Termites Play in Ecosystem:
    Termites break down and decompose organic matter. They recycle the nutrients back into the soil – making them crucial for forests/rainforests.

    Learn About Dry Wood and Damp Wood Termites

  • 1 / 4 to 1 / 2 inch long
  • They have soft bodies and straight antennas
  • The queen and king are the largest and can grow up to an inch long and are the first in line to be king or queen
  • Some termites can fly

    Dry wood termite colonies are much smaller than underground termite colonies. Mature colonies typically consist of a few hundred to a few thousand members.

    When conditions are favorable, male, and female swarming kings and queens begin colonies in cracks and other openings in wood. In Arizona, termites will send scouts to find vulnerable areas of your homes’ foundation. When they find their way into your home, they build mud tubes and infiltrate and eat the wood of the homes’ structure.

    Dry wood termites can live in extreme dry weather and so they do not need very much moisture to survive. For termites to get the moisture they need to survive by developing in the humidity of the air, and the moisture they get is consumed by the wood they eat.

    Infestation is usually limited to one area of a house but can be widespread. Termites can enter a house through exposed wood outside under the trim of the home, through objects such as wooden furniture, etc. However, majority of termite infestation happens from termites building tubes up through the house trim. Cracks in concrete walls and foundations can form hollow blocks along the path the termites take to infest the house. The termite lives in the soil around the house, penetrates the wood without touching the floor and builds mud pipes from the floor to the wood where they will not be attacked.

    Because damage can be considerable, as the termite colony chews through wooden beams and other wooden objects and weakens them from the inside out – house repairs for dry wood damage can be costly and require the use of in-house fumigation processes.

    LEARN ABOUT DAMPWOOD TERMITES (sometimes referred to moist wood termites)

    Underground dampwood termites eat books and other paper products, cellulose products, and a variety of other plant products. They are the most common termite species in the country and cause billions of dollars in structural damage each year. A colony can have more than one egg-laying female, and underground termite nests can have hundreds or thousands of members.

    Dampwood termites are not a problem in Arizona. These termite species are in humid, warm, and tropical areas. The quiet and mysterious nature of moist wood termites makes it difficult to detect infestation until it has become severe. For termites to remain hidden, they do sometimes do not build mud tubes, but cover their entrance holes with their own excrement. Termites weaken houses by hollowing out support beams. This can lead to costly repairs and cause a lot of frustration.

    Predictably, moisture infestation indicates that the wood is rotting and leaking, causing excessive moisture in the house. In addition, damp termites that are infested can be seen in areas affected by leaking roofs and cracked drainpipes. Damp wood termites can also weaken houses in which supporting beams are hollowed out. This can lead to costly repairs and cause a lot of frustration.

    Water-damaged wood that rests on the ground is more likely to be attracted to damp wood termites. Termites like to fall back on the following food, which include tree stumps, lumber, fallen trunks and branches left in direct contact with the ground.

    Underground termites live in the soil and must maintain contact with the soil and other moisture sources to survive. In their natural environment, termites work as useful insects that break down cellulose-containing materials such as dead trees. Termites can find weakened structural areas or areas that have direct contact between wood and soil and feed on cellulose.

    Termites build earthen protective tubes into soil structures to protect themselves from predators and maintain a humid environment. Protective tubes are often installed in the interior walls of canopies and chimneys where they are not visible.

    There can be isolated above-ground infestations in buildings where termites do not have access to water condensation, leaky pipes, roofs, or other sources. In rare situations where water and wood from sources other than soil are available, underground termites can establish colonies without contact with the ground.


    Observe warning signs such as the presence of winged swarm mud tubes and indications of damage to the wood. Pests can infest homes unnoticed for years, so it is vital to respond to early warning signals to prevent serious damage.

    Remember that termites look different depending on the species. Dry wood worker termites, for example, have a creamy color, while soldiers have large, dark heads. Formosa termites have orange bodies, while traditional underground termites can be brownish.

    They live both in rural and urban environments and can be found in houses, fences, sheds, garages, wood burning and other dead wood. Because cellulose occurs in wood and tree roots, termites naturally tend to do stay close to homes because of the easy access to food.

    Certain woods such as cedar, cypress and sequoia are termite resistant. Termites are not bothered by pressure-treated composite wood. But they crunch through chipboard.

    There are chemical and non-chemical methods to treat termites. Termites are exceptionally good at staying hidden and consuming wood from the inside out. They leave the skin of the wood untouched and hide the damage from human eyes. Here are some indications that you might have a termite.

    Termites can sting and bite, but they are not poisonous and do not pose a health risk. Anyone who is allergic to termite saliva excretions or suffers from asthma can be affected – but it is not a live or die situation. Always have the medication you need nearby for every and any occasion.

    The biggest concern is the structural damage that termites can cause.

    Termites are a serious threat to our homes and should be tackled at the earliest possible stage of an infestation, Spicer said. Even if you find termites are present, it is recommended to contact Loveall Pest Control 844-Loveall or 520-709-4052 to get rid of them as quickly as possible. A minute of termites, even a minute of destructive gnawing, can cost you thousands of dollars in remedies.

    Biology of Termites

    Want In-Depth Research?

    Biology of Termites

    Biology of Termites, Volume I presents the anatomical, physiological, biochemical, and behavioral laboratory and field studies of termite species. Although termites have been associated mainly with damage, only less than 10% of the species have actually been recorded as pests, obscuring their important ecological role in the breakdown of vegetative matter and their variety and complexity of structure, physiology, social behavior, caste differentiation and regulation, and other aspects of their biology.