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How Do Violent Conflicts Between Termites Influence Their Lifespans?

How Do Violent Conflicts Between Termites Influence Their Lifespans?

Termites are relatively understudied insects within the field of entomology. This is somewhat surprising given the significant economic costs associated with termite structural damage. Termites in the United States alone cause billions of dollars each year in damages. You would think that a greater scientific understanding of termite behavior would be desired in order to more effectively combat these destructive insects. However, termites are regarded with widespread disinterest, as there are many other fascinating insects in the world that capture the curiosity of academics and scientists. Although termites may not be the most interesting of insects, the fact that termite queens can survive for a longer amount of time than any other insect species is worthy of attention. A recent study examined how intercolony conflict between termites can influence the lifespan of queen and king termites. Additionally, the study authors were able to determine how warring termite colonies resolve conflict after the death of each side’s royal pairs.

For the study, researchers collected Z. n. nevadensis termite species from the wild. These termites spend much of their lives in trees where encounters between different colonies are common. The researchers placed two different colonies into artificial arboreal conditions in order to gauge intercolony behavior. Since termite colonies vary drastically in age, encounters between two colonies of the same age is not the norm. When two termite colonies of the same age made contact in the lab, violence soon followed. The subsequent conflict resulted in the deaths of a royal pair from one colony while the royal pair from the other colony survived. The remaining workers and soldiers from the defeated colony were eventually absorbed into the victorious colony. When colonies of different ages were introduced, the older colonies killed off the younger colonies entirely, leaving the royal pair and all of their worker and soldier offspring dead. It was also found that termite queens would die unusually young if they had survived previous intercolony conflicts. The reason for this is not clear, but researchers believe that the queens may have died young due to injuries sustained during previous skirmishes. In general, colonies that are relatively large will live for a longer period of time than smaller colonies.

Have you ever seen a termite queen in a Zoo or even in the wild?

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How Do Termites Successfully Escape From Predators?

How Do Termites Successfully Escape From Predators?

Since termites are relatively small organisms, you would think that they would stand almost no chance of surviving an encounter with a predator. Surprisingly, a termite’s small size affords them many advantages during predatory attacks. For example, subterranean termites, as their name suggests, spend most of their time below the ground’s surface where predators cannot reach them. Despite this advantage, subterranean termites still need to beware of predators that also burrow within the soil. Other types of termites, most of which are non-soil dwellers, such as many drywood and dampwood termite species, dwell within pieces of dead or living timber.

Termites protect themselves by avoiding exposure to the outside world as much as possible. Termite-built nesting structures, tunnels and mud tubes keep termites hidden from their predators. However, termites are sometimes attacked within the wood and nests that they inhabit. When termites are a

ttacked within these shelters, researchers cannot possibly observe their escape strategies. Luckily, the black-winged termite species is in a unique position to shed more light on the methods of escape used by termites under attack.

The black-winged termite is native to southeast Asia, and they are known for building mud tubes along the length of trees from the crown to the routes. Given this termite’s exposure to predators during mud tube construction, researchers are able to observe how this termite escapes from predatory attacks.

Past studies that focused on termite escape behaviors could only be conducted within laboratories. These lab studies showed that termites escaped from predators immediately, but the recent field study showed termites indulging in a “wandering behavior” in response to an attack. Wandering behavior has been observed in other animals under similar hostile conditions. Socially inclined animals that move in herds may take time to develop a team strategy for escape, and this can look like wandering to observers. An individual termite may feel restrained from escaping alone from a predator if the colony is still in danger. In a termite’s case, the survival of the colony is more important than individual survival. This may explain why individual termites escape at lower speeds than termites escaping in groups. In this case, the slow-moving individual termite may be more focused on serving or regrouping with its colony rather than successfully escaping from a predator. Immediately after a predatory attack, termites may also wonder in order to survey the outside conditions before making a getaway. Finding safe places in the environment to hide is a necessity for termites that were born and raised within nests.

Have you ever seen a group of termites fleeing in response to a disturbance?

10 Tips To Prevent Termites From Damaging Your Home

Gilbert Termite Control Experts

10 Tips To Prevent Termites From Damaging Your Home!

  1. Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around the home, which termites need to thrive.
  2. Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and exterior AC units.
  3. Repair fascia, soffits and rotted roof shingles.
  4. Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
  5. Divert water away from the house through properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
  6. Routinely inspect the foundation of a home for signs of mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source), uneven or bubbling paint and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  7. Monitor all exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes and skirting boards for any noticeable changes.
  8. Maintain an 18-inch gap between soil and any wood portions of your home.
  9. Consider scheduling a professional inspection annually. Wood-boring insect damage is not covered by homeowners’ insurance policies.
  10. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.