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Subterranean Termite Pest Profile

subterranean_termite_01 subterranean_termite_02Common Name:
Subterranean Termite

Scientific Name:
Reticulitermes lucifugus

Order and Family:
Isoptera, Heterotermitidae

Worker: 1/8- to 3/8-inch in length. Pale, cream colored. Soldier: Body is similar to that of the worker, but large, deck head with powerful mandibles. Light colored with brown head.

Dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.

Life Cycle:
Due to the fact that termites are hemimetabolous insects, even the nymphs take part in the social life and have their specific tasks to fulfil. The so far poorly understood concept of caste determination does not seem to be definitive or too rigid. Once the caste of an individual is determined, development into other castes is still possible.

Subterranean termites live in colonies in the ground, building vertical tunnels that look like mud tubes above ground level so that they can search for food. Because subterranean termites will die if exposed to air for an extended period of time, the tunnels provide protection from the open air, allowing workers to carry food to the nest.

Warmer parts of North America.

Soldiers, also referred to as intercastes might turn into workers or even into reproductives, if there is a shortage of individuals of other castes. This process is controlled by pheromones. In the case of the queen, there is a specific ‘queen’ pheromone, preventing other individuals from turning into queens. Only if the queen is removed or dies, does the lack of the specific pheromone promote the development of a new queen. Termite workers build and maintain nests to house their colony. These are elaborate structures made using a combination of soil, mud, chewed wood/cellulose, saliva, and feces . A nest has many functions such as to provide a protected living space and to collect water through condensation. There are reproductive chambers and some species even maintain fungal gardens which are fed on collected plant matter, providing a nutritious mycelium on which the colony then feeds. Nests are punctuated by a maze of tunnel-like galleries that effectively provide air conditioning and control the CO2/O2 balance, as well as allow the termites to move through the nest.

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