What kind of animal causes this? Scurrying around in your walls, nibbling at the foundations. The thought of these animals can bring shivers down the spine of any homeowner. They are, the termites.
Termites are a kind of insect that most people dread finding in their home. Often called “white ants”, termites, however, are not ants. Termites belong to the order Blattodea, along with another dreaded insect: cockroaches.
There are over 3,000 species of termites; only a small portion of them are found in people houses. Some species of termites actually have the ability to digest wood, and thus your house becomes their dinner. This can prove to be harmful to the structural soundness of your house, as termites will begin to munch away. The little pellets that you can see in the picture above are the waste of the termites eating away our house.
However, not all termites are bad. In fact, most termites are beneficial, if not vital, to their ecosystems. Termites aid in breaking down dead or decaying matter. In addition, termites also can make a meal for many animals (like ants!).
Did you know that there are no adult termites? How’s THAT for a society run by kids. Termite colonies can number in the millions. Like ants, there is only one queen laying all the eggs, unlike ants, however, termites never pupate into adults. They have what’s called an “incomplete metamorphosis.”
The life cycle of a termite is like this: termites start out as eggs and then they hatch into larvae. Here, the termites will molt a couple of times, and soon they will be a worker. They can then molt one more time to become a soldier, a type of termite that protects the nest from predators, or they can actually become a queen! That’s right, even the lowliest termite worker can become a queen.
In conclusion, having termites in your house is probably a bad thing, but that doesn’t mean that ALL 3,000 species of termites are bad. Once you get to know them, they can actually be kind of cool! (Ants are still better.) Termites are very important to the world, just not to your house.