Here we go through what do termites look like and how to tell them apart from other ants. The Subterranean Termite is said to have evolved over 2 million years ago. Their survival can be attributed to living in a protected underground environment. In certain species, their colony nest has a hardened shell that is above ground level. Others seek the protection within trees, stumps, subfloors, fences and inside your home.
So what does a Termite look like?
The Australian subterranean termite resembles the white ant and it is about 4-7mm in size. They live in colonies that have a similar social structure to that of ants made up of several castes such as king, queen, workers, soldiers and the alates-flying reproductive termites at certain times of the year mainly between November-February.
The Australian subterranean termites are very secretive in nature. They tend to build their nest out of sight such as at the base of a tree or even at times underground; mostly within an enclosed patio or under concrete on ground flooring which is ideal for temperature ,moisture retention, and humidity control within the termite colony’s central nest.
In nature, they are very destructive to buildings and timber structures and they are said to be the most widely distributed and destructive timber pest in Australia. Their destruction accounts for over 70 % of serious damage done to buildings. A single colony may consist of more than one million termites.
1. Worker termites
They normally build mud tubes over hard objects which consist of mud secretions and partly digested timber. The termites maintain their colony nest in high humidity and temperatures ranging from 25-35 degrees C. If by chance they are exposed to light or open air, they normally dehydrate and die. Hence, they live in constant darkness except for the annual summer swarms of the alates.
They also feed the rest of the colony. It is only the worker termite caste that can digest timber through the use of symbiotic flagellated protozoa in their digestive tract. They digest and thereafter regurgitate the partly digested timber for the other termites to eat. The worker termites excrete this semi-liquid food anally for the other termites to eat as it is high in cellulose.
Termites with wings, small and soft bodied but have four large wings equally sized. They are the smallest in the family group but have one of the most important jobs. Alates have the job of leaving the nest in flying swarms to find a suitable mate and environment to start a new nest. They are the new potential king and queens. Being very weak flyers the alates are generally taken in the direction of the wind and become food for local prey. The survival rates for a male or female alate is less than 25%. They have a body length of about 7.5mm alongside two sets of slightly brownish wings. When resting, the wings lie flat and are usually about 11.5mm long. These winged termites shed their wings soon after the swarm has taken place. A common indicator that you have termites or there is a nest nearby is by a group of termite wings on the ground.
3. Soldier termites
They accompany worker termites in their constant search for new timber food sources. They also protect the worker termites so that they are able to do their job well. Being a little larger than the rest of the termites, the soldiers are the ones to rush to a broken mud lead or hole in the nest to quickly plug it. Soldier Termites have heads that are darker to their bodies and larger protruding jaws.
4. King termite
The king is a male who belongs to the reproductive caste and he is second to the queen. He spends most of his life underground and his main responsibility is to mate with the queen and to release caste-controlling pheromones. He also ensures the continuity of the colony
5. Queen termite
The queen’s responsibility is to lay eggs which enable the colony to survive and grow. She tends to have a long life span and is usually the oldest termite in the colony. She can produce eggs for a period of 10 years.