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  • termites
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    Drywood termite: general kalotermes and incisitermes


    Appearance: Larger than subterranean termites, up to one-half inch long; no worker caste in the colony.

    Habits: Create colonies in wood, with no connection to the ground necessary; often found in attic wood; need very little moisture.

    Diet: Wood and occasionally other cellulose material.

    Reproduction: Nymphs pass through seven instars before reaching adulthood; sexual forms eventually swarm to form new colony.

    Other Information: Cause serious damage to structures, often long before they are discovered; piles of sawdust-like pellets are a distinct sign of infestation; not as widespread as subterranean termite; colonies may contain up to 2,700 members.

    Appearance: Four "castes" of a termite colony:

    Worker: approximately one-forth of an inch long, light colored, wingless;

    Soldier: elongated head with mandibles;

    Supplementary Reproductives: wingless or very short, non-functional wings; light colored;

    Primary Reproductives: winged, and darker than other members; caste most often seen by homeowners.

    Habits: Live in colonies underground, from which they build tunnels in search of food; able to reach food above the level of the ground by building mud tubes; dependent on moisture for survival.

    Diet: Wood and other cellulose material.

    Reproduction: Different rates of growth from egg stage to adult depend on individual species; one queen per colony, which can lay tens of thousands of eggs in her lifetime, but most eggs are laid by supplementary reproductives in an established colony.

    Other Information: Cause more damage to homes in U.S. than storms and fire combined; colonies can contain up to 1,000,000 members.


    The nests of some termite species, such as the West African Macrotermes bellicosus may house up to five million - many more termites than the entire population of New Zealand.

    In a really big nest, a queen and king may live for 15 years, and, for much of her life, the queen will lay one egg every 15 seconds.

    Termites will sometimes eat away the wooden structure of a house from within the timbers, leaving the painted surface undamaged.

    Termites rarely expose themselves to light.

    After mating, termite pairs shed their wings and disperse to start new colonies.

    More info of this article can be found on the web at: This link was broken when checked on Dec. 2006

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