All Californians fear termites. After all, they are the most destructive insect in our state. In their native habitat – inside trees and river washes – they are beneficial to the environment, breaking down dead trees and fallen wood so that new plants may grow. Unfortunately, as every Southern Californian knows, termites and man-made structures are a poor combination as they indiscriminately eat anything made of wood, whether it’s your heirloom china cabinet or the structure of your house. While those are the most depressing facts about termites, here are ten facts about termites that you probably didn’t know.
- There are approximately 45 species of termites that live in the United States and more than 2300 species worldwide. Most Californians will encounter either subterranean termites (Reticulitermes hesperus) or drywood termites (Incisitermes minor). Respectively, they are the first and second most destructive insect in California according to UC Davis.
- While humans (homo sapiens) have inhabited the earth for nearly 500,000 years, termites have lived on earth for 250 million years. Researchers think termites are wood-eating descendants of cockroaches.
- Termites might be called “royal” insects. A female that has flown and mated is called a “queen” while a male that has flown and mated is called a “king”. There are also soldiers and workers in every colony.
- Most Americans don’t consider bugs to be a delicacy but in Africa and Indonesia, termites are frequent visitors on native culture’s menus. Typically, they are fried and sprinkled with salt or they are eaten “raw” after their wings have been removed. They are said to taste like carrots when they are uncooked and popcorn when they are cooked.
- Termites offer hope to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Department of Energy scientists are studying termites because of their unique ability to generate large amounts of hydrogen as a part of their digestive process. A termite can generate up to two liters of hydrogen after digesting a single sheet of paper.
- Worker termites are blind. Termites communicate primarily by secreting chemicals called pheromones. Each colony develops its own characteristic odor. An intruder is instantly recognized and an alarm pheromone is secreted that triggers the soldiers to attack the intruder.
- Admiral Pest Control was one of the first pest control companies in the United States to use Vikane gas to eradicate termites. Vikane and high heat are the only treatments approved for whole-house eradication of termites. Orange Oil, microwave, extreme cold and other similar treatments have been found to be of limited efficacy on small areas.
- Ants, nematodes and spiders eat termites and are considered natural enemies of termites. Unfortunately these predators typically don’t eat enough to stop an infestation.
- Termites do more damage – around $5 billion – every year than fires, floods and other natural disasters combined.
- Termites keel over and die when they see an Admiral Pest truck pull up. Wait a minute, aren’t termites blind?
If you think you have termites in Orange County or Los Angeles, give us a call and we'll make sure they don't eat your house!