The Termite World – Meet the Castes (1)
Hello, once again, faithful “dog-blog” fans. In keeping with Termite Awareness Week, I am continuing with a short series of blogs dedicated to termites; their life cycle, habits, and other valuable information you probably never knew before. Our Central Virginia Region is ranked 15th nationally in termite activity, so to better understand how these wood devouring menaces act and react, is to be a more informed home and/or business owner.
Living and working as Loyal Termite & Pest Control’s exclusive K-9 Termite Detective, I have sniffed out literally millions of these pesky little creatures over the years. You can call me a silly little dog; however, I am an expert when it comes to termites. I left you last time explaining how “Swarmers”, magically produced by the colony Queen, emerge from an overcrowded colony to begin a brand new cycle of termite colony formation.
Our regional termite species is called the Subterranean; named logically because they form their colonies underground near a cellulose food resource. Cellulose is the main component of wood and the exclusive diet of a termite.
Colonies contain three termite forms or castes: reproductives, workers, and soldiers. Individuals of each caste have several stages: the egg, the larva that develops into a nymph or soldier; and the adult. Reproductive adults have three forms: primary, secondary, and tertiary reproductive.
Reproductive males and females can be winged, or wingless (secondary or tertiary). Each can produce new offspring. The bodies of primary reproductive, also called Swarmers or alates (the subject of my prior blog), vary by species from coal black to pale yellow-brown. Wings may be pale or smoky gray to brown have few distinct veins. Swarmers are about ¼” to 3/8” inch long.
Secondary and tertiary reproductives in the colony are generally white to cream colored and may have short wing buds. Developed as needed, they replace a primary Queen when she is injured or dies. They also develop in addition to the primary Queen and lay eggs for the colony. Supplementary reproductives, including a group of males, workers, and soldiers, may become isolated from the main colony and can establish a new colony. People often ask me how am I able to sniff out termites. Well, when termites are actively reproducing they excrete a sweet smelling “pheromone”. It is my ability to recognize that distinct odor that makes me so effective in finding hiding termites.
The fact that termites have so many ways that colony reproduction is available; it is no wonder that they are so successful in maintaining strong, fully active termite colonies.
Stay tuned for my next blog that will continue to cover the termite world and their “caste” of characters. Remember, this is Termite Awareness Week. I’ll bark at you later, Ruff! Ruff!