Eastern Subterranian Termite (Reticulotermes flavipes)

I. Life Cycle

- Social insects that live in underground nests or colonies.

- Colony contains three castes:

- Reproductives: Primary or "Swarmers" (King/Queen) leave the colony to pair up, mate and start new colonies. They are 1/4-3/8" long with pale or smoke gray wings. Swarms occur in spring when temperature and humidity are conducive.

- Secondary: Workers that do not swarm but move to start new colonies. They are 1/4-3/8" long white to grayish white "grub" w/yellow brown head. Their main function is to maintain nest/colony and forage for celluse-based food for colony. Workers are the caste member responsible for damage to wood.

- Soldiers: Wingless w/large rectangular heads and large mandibles. Their main function is to protect the colony against enemies...primarily ants.

- Queen can lay thousands of eggs each year and workers tend to eggs during two week incubation period.
- Newly hatched nymphs are fed regurgitated food by workers.
- After molting, nymphs become members of castes: workers, soldiers or reproductives.
- As colony grows, workers expand nest and feeding area.
- As feeding expands, colony expands into nesting sites.
- Colonies mature in 3-6 years causing swarmers to be produced to start new colonies.
- Swarmers are poor fliers, usually moving only a short distance from swarming site.
- After dropping to ground, swarmers shed wings and pair up to start new colonies.
- Workers require high humidity environment resulting in construction of shelter tubes between soil and wood.
- Workers, along with soldiers, will also provides protection from enemy invaders.
- Inter-feed and communicate through process of trophallaxis...mouth to mouth or mouth to anus.

II. Feeding Habits

- Feed on wood but rely on protozoa in gut to digest cellulose.
- Foraging is random and continuous until source of food is located.
- Feeding is constant throughout the year.
- Absence of moist, humid environment will hinder feeding.

III. Termite Control

- All control measures begin with a thorough inspection of site to identify activity and condusive conditions.
- Continuous chemical barriers applied to the soil around the structure.
- Baits.
- Stations installed around a structure that can be monitored and altered to promote inter-feeding to eliminate colony.
- Stations are not an immediate control as is generally used where chemical barriers are not possible (slabs or inaccessible areas).
- Relocating or removing firewood stored near a structure, wood in crawlspace, non-treated mulch.
- Removing existing shelter tubes.
- Correcting drainage issues.
- Diverting water away from structures.


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