Termite Colony

Photo by Creative Commons LicenseU.S. Department of Agriculture
The definition of a termite is “a whitish soft-bodied ant-like social insect that feeds on wood”. However, as you’ll soon learn, termites don’t only feed on wood but also other foods as well and there’s a lot more to a termite than meets the eye. For example, a termite colony has a strong social hierarchy just like humans, and they live their lives according to strict codes of conduct, willing to sacrifice themselves for greater good of the colony.

Think of them as an effectively run army that works together for the same common goal and purpose. This army is made up of several levels. At the top is the queen followed by her sidekick the king (with larger colonies, several pairs of kings and queens may exist). They’re helped out by the big boys who protect everyone else – the soldiers.

The workers on the other hand are the most useful termites in the colony; they make up the majority of the colony and do all the dirty work. And then finally there’s the larva or offspring of a termite colony (baby termites which have yet to grow and must be cared for by the workers).

Termite Colonies

If you’re looking for similarities then you’ll discover that a termite colony is very close to an ant colony, although there are major differences. In fact, termites are often referred to as the “white ant” although technically this isn’t true.

A new termite colony forms by swarming. When termite colonies reach a certain size they start producing new termites which will separate and then fly off to start their very own termite colony. Most of these termites will not survive this hazardous journey as during this period of time the termites are very vulnerable. The termites poor flying skills make them prey for predators such as birds, or they may just get separated and blown away from the colony.

Once the termite swarm has settled on it’s new location the termites will shed their wings and begin burrowing to create their new colony. You can often see evidence of a new termite colony formation as the termite wings get shedded and will remain behind on the ground.

Because termites work together for the same common goal and purpose it’s necessary for us to understand how and why they work for each other. They are a community, just like humans, and dissecting how this community functions will help you to understand how you can protect yourself from these creatures in your home.