In Subterranean Termite Colonies, Older Workers Change the Diapers


By Thomas Chouvenc Well, they don’t exactly change diapers, but when it comes to the latrine and nest sanitation, old termites are in charge. Age polyethism, where workers change tasks as they age, is an elegant way for social insect colonies to effectively allocate tasks to different individuals, usually giving the more risky duties, such […]

Ant and Termite Fossils Indicate Advanced Sociality 100 Million Years Ago


Insects that are “eusocial” live in colonies with closely related nestmates and display social behavior, including a division of labor. The best-known examples are honey bees, termites, and ants. All eusocial insects display the following three traits: 1) They cooperate while caring for their young, 2) there is a division of labor among different castes […]

Some Types of Wood Contain Natural Chemicals that Are Toxic to Termites


By some estimates, termites cause about $40 billion per year in damage globally, and they destroy parts of more than 600,000 homes in the United States alone. The amount of wood a single colony destroys depends on the type of termite and the type and condition of the wood. For example, the heartwood of some […]

Termite Experts Attempt to Solve Taxonomic Cold Cases


By Richard Levine Coptotermes is one of the most economically destructive genera of termites, and it includes the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus). For years, taxonomists have struggled with a long list of described species around the world. As some species were described multiple time, species names were gradually removed from the list, which was […]

Florida Scientists Discover Super Termites, and They’re Not Genetically Modified


By Richard Levine Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) and Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi) are the most damaging pest species in the world. Both are highly invasive and have spread throughout many areas of the world due to human activity, and their distributions overlap in some areas. Now scientists in Florida have observed Formosan males […]

An NPMA Interview for Termite Awareness Week


Termites Awareness Week was created a few years ago to help bring attention to the extensive damage done by termites and the steps homeowners can take to prevent them. Throughout the year the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) provides consumers with education about termites, but they really strengthen their voice as spring approaches. This year […]

Destructive Termite Species Intercepted in Philadelphia


Next week — March 15-21, 2015 — is National Termite Awareness Week, an annual observance by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to promote public vigilance against termites. And what better way is there to promote public vigilance than to capture a potentially destructive termite species stowed away in cargo? The U.S. Department of Agriculture […]

Termites May Help to Prevent Desertification


New research published in the journal Science suggests that termite nests are crucial to stopping the spread of deserts. In the parched grasslands and savannas of Africa, South America, and Asia, termite mounds store nutrients and moisture, and — via internal tunnels — allow water to better penetrate the soil. As a result, vegetation flourishes […]

Termites Tunnel and Transport Food Faster at Higher Temperatures


Entomologists at the University of Florida recently published an article in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America that may help to explain the seasonal activities of termites. The effects of temperature on tunneling and food-transportation activity of four subterranean termite species — Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann), Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks), and Reticulitermes […]