Interesting Facts About Termites

Damage to a nest of Formosan subterranean termites brings hoards of workers and soldiers with dark, oval shaped heads scrambling to repair the hole. Termites shown about 4 times actual size. USDA photo by Scott Bauer.
Wikimedia photo by Scott Bauer

In a previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to learn more about termites.  They are as fascinating as I assumed they would be.  Here is some of the facts I discovered:

  • There are more than 3000 varieties of termites.
  • Termites work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
  • If you calculated the weight of all of the termites in the world and the weight of all humans, the termites would weigh more.
  • Termites eat dead plant materials and cellulose in wood, leaves, soil, animal dung, etc. They are considered to be a pest when they are in our houses because of the damage they cause by eating the wood.
  • They are important to the environment because they are decomposers. They aerate and improve the quality of soil.
  • Termites have been around for 300 million years.
  • They descended from an ancestor that was similar to a cockroach.
  • New kings and queens have wings. The wings are needed in order for the pair to find and build their colony. Once the colony is established, the king and queen break off their wings and begin to reproduce.
  • Termite kings and queens stay together for life. The king helps the queen in raising their young .
  • The video below says that the queen may live for 15 years and during that time she will lay more than 164 million eggs. (One article I read said the queen may live 50 years.)
  • Termite workers and soldiers are sterile. The workers build and maintain the nest and take care of the king and queen. The soldiers defend the nest.
  • Both the workers and the soldiers are blind since they live in the dark and don’t need eyes.  (The king and queen need eyes to pick the location for their nest.)
  • The termites communicate with each other using pheromones, a chemical scent. They talk to each other in this way as well as leave trails to guide other workers. The soldiers communicate danger by banging their heads against the walls of the nest.
  • The size of a termite colony can vary from hundreds of termites to millions.
  • Cleanliness is important to termites.  They spend a lot of time grooming each other.

I found this interesting two minute YouTube video about a termite queen and her attendants.

You can read more about termites in these articles:

10 Fascinating Facts about Termites



Termites- Insects That Eat Wood

Termites, Order Isoptera


2 thoughts on “Interesting Facts About Termites

  1. Interesting. I find ants fascinating too. Even though I don’t like it when they come in the house. And Fire Ants are a literal pain. You can’t get rid of them and you definitely can’t walk in the yard anywhere near a mound or you will get bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve written posts this year about ants, slugs,aphids and fruit flies. It is so interesting to learn about these “pests.”

      I know what you mean about the red ants. I’ve stepped in them twice during my years in India. Even one bite is so painful and to get bit by a lot of them hurts so much.

      Liked by 1 person

I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s