How do termites build their colonies?
Termites are considered as social creatures that follow an arrangement to create their colonies. They go around with a system of hierarchy that divides them into several groups. What affects this division depends on whether they are fertile or sterile. Fertile termites are assigned for reproduction. On the other hand, the sterile ones, considered as neuters, are entrusted with other responsibilities.
What are the common types of termites in their caste system?
There are various types of termites. They can be identified based on their distinctive features. This is important to note as homeowners because it will help us identify the ones we see at home. It can help address questions such as: “What does it mean when we see a winged termite?” or “Is it time to call a professional inspector for help?”
That said, below are the four common types of termites that fall under their caste system.
The King and Queen
The fertile termites are also referred to as alates. They are winged creatures responsible for mating. When they become sexually mature to reproduce, these social creatures go on mating flights in preparation to form a new colony. To survive, these types of termites grow with skin that can withstand harsh conditions outside their nest. The king helps keep their territory strong. It is about the size of other regular termites but possesses a darker color that keeps it distinct. Meanwhile, the queen is the largest. Her primary responsibility is to lay up to one thousand eggs a day.
Bear in mind that the alates or breeders are the only caste in the termite colony that can fly or see. If you notice termites’ wings while cleaning your home, the chances are that the alates shed their wings to go on to establish a new colony. They do this during their lifetime that can last up to 50 years.
Within the termites’ caste system, they have secondary breeders. They are similar to the king and queen that can reproduce. They never leave the nest and only remain there until they are needed for procreation. These backup breeders are responsible for reproduction when the king and queen die or leave to expand their colonies. That said, the process of procreation never stops.
Both male and female termites can be soldiers. The soldier caste is in charge of protecting their colony. They shield their territory from predators and other natural enemies. They use their massive head to prevent unsolicited guests from entering their nest. They also bang their heads or shake their bodies against the wood to signal danger to others. These acts of soldier termites can appear as the clicking sounds you hear from the walls of your home. The soldiers defend their colonies and can sacrifice themselves to save their territory.
The caste that does the other necessary duties is the workers. Since they neither reproduce nor defend their colony, they gather food that can feed the entire group. They groom and repair their nest, if necessary, and get rid of their lifeless members. These wingless, soft-bodied termites are the ones that are often seen infesting wood.