If you have an issue with termites or even if you just that think that you may have, you will have to learn about the appearance of termites and how they behave, unless, of course, you decide to call an expert in, which is obviously the easiest course. A common description of termites is that they look like little white ants.
In spite of the fact that many termites are white, not all of them are. They are also not white ants and closer inspection of a termite will reveal that it only very casually resembles an ant in appearance.
In behavioural patterns, there is a closer resemblance to ants, as work is divided along gender lines, as in ants. Termites are also completely unrelated to ants. They are not even distant relatives. In fact, it has lately been realized that termites are more closely related to cockroaches.
Ants, bees and wasps belong to the Order of Hymenoptera, whereas termites have been reclassified into a Super Order called Dictyoptera. It has been proposed that termites be reclassified as Family Termitidae in the Order of Blattodea (where cockroaches are).
Termites do vaguely look like ants, it is true, but where they resemble ants a lot more is in their behaviour. Just like ants, the workers go out and bring back food for those members of the colony that do not often (or ever) leave the nest.
However, whereas ants will tunnel to get somewhere, as termites will as well, if travelling means being exposed to daylight or predators, ants will risk it, whereas termites will construct enclosed walk-ways or galleries to get there. This is also the duty of the workers, who, just as with ants, are exclusively female and blind.
If there is a threat to the nest, then the soldiers are summoned. They have exaggerated mandibles or jaws. Sometimes these mandibles are so large that the soldier termites cannot feed themselves and have to be fed by others. Then there are the winged termites which fly off to establish new colonies.
At the top of the hierarchy is the queen. She normally has a very distended abdomen, which can be the size of a human fist, although all other body parts, head, legs etc, remain the usual size.
Workers and nest-bound termites are invariably white to cream in colour, because they never see the sun, whereas flying termites are brown. In Thailand they are a reddish brown with three pairs of large white wings. They be inclined to swarm during or just after rainfall and they leave cracks in the ground in bursts of fifty to a hundred.
They look like streamers. Thais eat these termites, called ‘maleng maw’ – they are fatty and full of protein. When they have mated, they drop to the ground, shed their wings. Then they look for the nearest crevice in the earth to start the cycle all over again.
Termites do a huge amount of damage in warm countries, but they are still absorbing creatures and it is just thought of as bad luck if your house is chosen by them, unless you take adequate steps to take care of your property.
Owen Jones, the author of this article, writes on many subjects, but is at present concerned with pictures of termites. If you are interested in this or if you are wondering: What Does A Termite Look Like?. Please go to our web site now for more details.