Termites Subterranean

Termites subterranean (Reticulitermes banyulensis). They are social insects that live in colonies within the soil and have specialized castes that perform specific colonial functions. The termite colony has three primary castes: workers, soldiers and reproductives (kings, queens and secondaries). Workers who are creamy-white are not seen unless one of the tubes or channels of the infested wood is broken and exposed (Figure 2). It is the workers who feed on the wood and cause damage. It is believed that individual workers survive for more than five years. The soldiers are yellow elongated heads with large jaws and are the same size as the adult worker – a quarter of an inch.

Description

Termites subterranean are social insects that live in colonies within the soil and have specialized castes that perform specific colonial functions. The termite colony has three primary castes: workers, soldiers and reproductives (kings, queens and secondaries). Workers who are creamy-white are not seen unless one of the tubes or channels of the infested wood breaks and is exposed. It is the workers who feed on the wood and cause damage. It is believed that individual workers survive for more than five years. The soldiers are yellow elongated heads with large jaws and are the same size as the adult worker – a quarter of an inch. There are fewer soldiers than workers and these are the ones that feed them. When the colony is invaded, or a hole is made in the tube or channel of the infested wood, the soldiers use their jaws to defend the opening . The secondaries are supplementary reproductive females that appear in the mature colonies under favorable conditions . The king and queen are dark brown or black three-eighths to a half-inch long. They have two pairs of translucent wings, both of the same length, which change shortly after swarming. Sometimes, the molted wings is the only indication that there are termites in the building. In Pennsylvania swarms of winged termites usually emerge in the months of February to June.

Habitat

The termites subterranean live in colonies in the earth, they build vertical tunnels that look like mud tubes above ground level to be able to look for food. Because termites subterranean die if exposed to the air for an extended period of time, the tunnels provide free air protection, allowing the workers to bring food to the nest. They can also tunnel through cracks in concrete, so that homes made of slab or cement are not exempt from these termites. They need to be in contact with the earth in order to survive, unlike termites in dry wood that only need little moisture.

Feeding

The termites feed on old roots, stumps of trees, fallen branches that are on the ground and of similar materials. They are beneficial when they help reduce wood and similar cellulose products into other compounds that can be used again by other living organisms. Sometimes, termites attack plants, including roots of shrubs and trees. In the buildings they feed on cellulose matter such as structured wood, wooden ornaments, paper, books, cotton and related products.

Lifecycle

During late winter to early spring, swarms of reproductive breeds can be seen in infested buildings. These termites, winged, black is the most commonly seen state since the other castes are not exposed to light by their own arrangement. Winged termites are attracted by light and when they emerge inside buildings, they tend to clog windows and doors. After crawling or fluttering for a short time, the termites release their wings and look for a mate. Each couple tries to locate wet wood that is in contact with the ground to start a new colony, but few succeed. Although the owners of the houses are alarmed and these can be a nuisance, the winged termites do not cause any damage.

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