Termite behavior

April 5, 2013By

Termites love a moist, temperature-stable environment, and the soil just below your lawn is ideal. Below the frost line, but just above the water table and bedrock is the perfect vantage point for the colony to thrive and plot its next moves. The termites’ main objectives are to:

Constantly forage for food

Termites are always looking for ways to feed the hungry, growing colony. When any termite finds a food source, it leaves a pheromone scent trail to recruit other termites from the colony to come find the cellulose, too. The scent trail is an effective part of the colony’s communication system, keeping the whole community fed.

Create a vast foraging network

Termites can travel up to 350 feet from the nest, with a total foraging territory of up to ½ acre. As they move through the soil searching for a food source, they are often blocked by something they can’t chew through. If exposed to open air, the termites will construct mud tubes from packed earth, saliva and bits of chewed cellulose. And while these tubes are primarily meant to protect them from dehydration and ant attacks, termites will also use this material to seal themselves inside edible lumber, and sometimes to create an entire, above-ground colony.

Build a nest for the colony

With special rooms to accommodate reproductive pairs, eggs and nymphs, a successful, mature colony with a ready food source typically includes several thousand individual termites. Two to four years after one colony begins, however, reproductive swarmers set out to find mates, and then dig into the ground and establish their own colonies. Their numbers can grow to the millions. A swarm increases the risk of infestation for every house in the neighborhood.

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