(Reticulitermes flavipes)

Termite Damage in Wood, Termites ExterminatorHABITS: Eastern subterranean termite colonies are usually located in the ground, below the frost line, but above the water table. Mud tubes are built to cross-areas of adverse condition between the colony and the food sources. They can enter structures through cracks less than 1/16” wide. However, if a constant source of moisture is available (like leaky pipes) colonies (called secondary colonies) can exist above ground and without ground contact.

BIOLOGY: Eastern subterranean termites have 4 castes: worker, soldier, primary reproductive and secondary reproductive. An average colony consists of 60,000 to 250,000 workers but colonies numbering in the millions of foragers are not uncommon.

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THE TERMITE QUEEN: Occupies a “royal cell” with the King. A mature termite queen produces 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year. A termite queen may live for 25 to 30 years.

WORKERS: Are the most numerous individuals in the colony. They are white to cream colored and are approximately 1/8 to1/4 inch in size. They perform all of the work of the colony, feeding the other castes, grooming the queen, excavating the nest and making the tunnels. In the process of making nest and tunnels, they chew and eat materials that contain cellulose, such as paper, cardboard, fiberboard and wood. A small organism lives in the digestive track of the insect. The protozoa help to convert cellulose into nourishing food, which is fed back to the other castes from their mouths and anuses. A worker may live for 5 years.

SOLDIERS: Serve specifically to protect the colony from its enemies most commonly, ants. The soldiers have rectangular yellow- brown heads, which are two times longer than their width, and large mandibles, which lack teeth.

PRIMARY REPRODUCTIVES (SWARMERS): They are the most often seen by the homeowner. The winged adults are dark brown to almost black and about 3/8-inch long. The four wings are the same length and extend more than the length of the body and beyond the tip of the abdomen. Swarmers appear in the Northeast usually in April and May. It is not unusual to have swarmer sighting as early as February. After a brief flight the swarmers shed their wings and the male and female pair and attempt to establish a new colony in the soil.

Winged Termites

SUPPLEMENTARY REPRODUCTIVES: Are wingless or have only very short, non-functional wings. These reproductives are developed as needed and quickly replace a primary queen who is injured or dies. They usually develop in addition to the primary queen and become the most important source of eggs in the colony. Supplementary reproductives, with a group of males and workers may become isolated from the main colony and can establish a new colony.


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