Simple Guide To Termite

by Nate on September 2, 2011

Simple Guide To Termite

In the basic definition, termites are small, burrowing insects that eat wood – especially damp wood – and resemble small white ants. But there’s so much more than that! In actuality, termites are social creatures – just like we are – that live with a specific social order to take care of the colony that they live in.

That’s right – there are actually levels of termite hierarchy, just like in human life. Because they are social insects, this type of setup works best for them because they don’t possess the same skills that we humans do in order to get things done. But, get things done, they certainly do!

There are basically five levels of termites: the worker, the soldier, the reproductive, the king, and the queen. Each distinctive level has its own duties when it comes to the colony. Termites have long been referred to as “little white ants”, and there are a few – very few – similarities between the two species.

Ants also live in colonies with each level performing specific functions within the community. They all work together to make sure that they all live in relative peace having food and protection. Not so unlike humans, right? But termites as well as ants can be damaging to our structures which is why we don’t want them around.


That’s why we need to better understand how the colonies work. When we understand this part of their living environment, we can better combat them. We are, of course, talking about termites – which is what this article is about.

Let’s start with the worker termite. The worker termite is the lowest on the totem pole in the termite colony. They are the ones who put out the most effort with the least amount of appreciation and satisfaction in a job well done. It’s a good thing they aren’t humans or there could be an uprising! It’s especially good there’s no little termite union demanding respect for the work they do!

Worker termites have soft, light-colored bodies rarely more than 10 mm long, like grains of rice. They rarely leave the dark tunnels that run from the colony through the soil and into the wooden frames of buildings. Twenty-four hours a day, they forage for food, maintain the nest, and tend the queen and her brood. Juveniles, called nymphs, groom and feed one another and others in the colony.

The worker termites are the ones that people most commonly refer to as “little white ants” as that is what they most closely resemble. Workers represent the majority of the colony population and are responsible for caring for eggs, constructing and maintaining tunnels, foraging for food and feeding and grooming of other caste members.

Worker termites are usually seen when a piece of infested wood is broken, exposing the termites. When exposed to light, you will notice that the insects quickly run for cover. They instinctively know that heat and sunlight are enemies.

Visit the About Animals website to learn about kill ticks and tick bite fever.

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