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The Royal Insects: Termites

Dragons. Brave heroes saving their homeland. Kings and queens of a distant country. Many of us are fascinated with the medieval ages, from the time when we were kids pretending to be princes and princesses, to our adulthood anticipating the latest season of Game of Thrones. But did you know, the insect kingdom is home to one of the most extraordinary royal family? I’m referring to termites of course! Here are some reasons why termites are such royal insects.

All Hail The Queen! (and King)

termite queen surrounded by workers

When it comes to insects, we always talk about the Queen. And why shouldn’t we? Termite Queens are amazing! The Coptotermes termite queen, the most common termite species in Malaysia, can lay up to 1,000 eggs per day. Together with the King, they are responsible for making sure that the number of termites is always growing to support the colony. What makes termite kings and queens so royal is unlike other insects, they mate for life. Other kings such as ants usually die off right after mating but the termite queen and king mate for a lifetime, just like your happily ever after in every fairy tale. They are also completely served by termite workers, being fed and served every single moment of their lives. Talk about a pampered lifestyle.

To Protect And Serve Is The Soldier’s Way

close up of termite soldier

Every royal kingdom needs an army and this is where the termite soldiers come in. These blind insects are tasked with guarding the colony from threats and predators. Imagine having to fight without being able to see your enemies! To help them, they have large mandibles as their weapons but that’s not all. Some termites are able to secrete sticky liquids or chemical sprays to protect the colony!

What’s even more surprising is the older the termite soldier is, the more likely they will be the first ones to defend their colony. According to a study done on termite behaviour, older termite soldiers are usually the first to defend their nests. In human terms, its sending a blind 60 year old man to fight a war, because that is exactly what happens when a termite colony is threatened. Older soldiers sacrifice themselves to weaken the threat and allow the younger soldiers time to protect the king and queen! While the situation can be quite morbid, I like to think of the older soldiers as brave generals who have had a long life and are ready to pass on their duties to the next generation and protect their homes.

Working 24/7 without pay?!

close up of termite worker

Finally, we have the termite workers. Just like every castle has its servants, workers are in charge of finding food and water sources, building and maintaining the nest and feeding the rest of the colony. They work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and anything that the colony needs is provided by the workers.

Workers are blind, just like soldiers as they live in the dark most of their lives. They also require lots of humidity to survive, which is why they build mud tubes to keep their colonies humid. These mud tubes also act as protection against predators when they are foraging for food.

Termite Caste vector

For being the equivalent of servants, these workers are actually the most destructive termites. The workers are the ones who actively seek out food, which unfortunately comes in the shape of our homes. They chew through all the wood they can find, leaving behind hollow sounding and fragile structures. So if you thought that it was the soldiers that caused the most damage, it was actually your humble termite worker chewing away at your wooden door to feed their king and queen.

Just because they resemble royalty doesn’t mean we have to let termites have their way with our homes. Our Rentokil Colony Elimination Plan (RCEP) is designed to manage your termite infestations and teach them you are the king or queen of your home, not them. Contact us today at (65) 6347 8138 for professional termite solutions or visit our website!

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