Yes, termites are annoying bugs that like to eat wood, but there's a lot more to know about these pests than you might expect. Check out surprising facts that make them unique and menacing.
1. Three basic types of termite species
There are three basic types of termite species. First are the damp wood termites. These are larger bugs that only eat wet, rotting wood. Then there are dry wood species, which have small colonies that prefer to feast on dry, soft woods. The third type is subterranean species, which can have colonies that number in the millions, and dig underground. Subterranean versions, like the Eastern subterranean termite, are particularly dangerous and difficult to detect without the help of a professional service like Inspect-All.
2. They like more than wood
Depending on the species, these insects don't just eat wood, although they definitely enjoy it. They may also eat just about anything made out of plants, including fabrics and some have been known to eat wallpaper and plastic, too.
3. Their total mass outweighs humans
Some say that there are 1,000 pounds of these insects for every human on the planet. This may not seem like an impressive number, but when it comes to sheer mass, the termite (along with other pests, like ants) easily outweighs humans.
4. They have temporary wings
The termite is one of the interesting insect species that grows wings only when it is necessary. When swarming to create a new colony, they will grow wings to move away. Once a colony is established, they actually shed their wings.
5. They never sleep
These insects are quite busy and work 24 hours a day! Most of this work boils down to "eating." This is one reason colonies can be so destructive: They never take a break from their hard work!
6. They don't eat wood as quickly as you think
Even very large termite colonies may only consume a pound or two of wood per day. That doesn't sound like much, but remember, colonies can infest a house for months before anyone notices something is wrong. Also, the wood isn't eaten in large chunks. It's eaten in tunnels that can ruin entire structures.
7. Some live for up to 20 years
The average termite worker only lives for a couple years. However, termite queens have been known to live for over 20 years as they rule over their colonies.
8. They are masters of mud
Subterranean colonies in particular are great at building complex mud structures. Even termites in homes often construct mud tubes that lead to vulnerable, soft wood.
9. An infestation is often caused by multiple colonies
If a building is attractive to wood-eaters, it's probably plagued by more than just one colony. Most termite problems come from at least a couple of surrounding colonies.