Termites are a type of insect that have existed for millions of years with the most ancient species coexisting with the dinosaurs.
Termites are commonly called white ants, but are more closely related to cockroaches rather than ants.
Both termites and cockroaches have been among the longest surviving animals in the world and can readily adapt to changing environments.
Currently the number of termite species around the world is more than 2,500.
The number of termite species and subspecies is likely to increase over time as identification techniques improve.
Subterranean termites cause the majority of damage in Australia.
Termites are social insects with several castes:
TERMITE QUEEN: may live more than 25 years in several species.
SOLDIER TERMITES:main function in the colony is to protect the others from insects such as ants. Soldier termites have prominent jaws and some can emit a chemical repellent as a form of defence.
WORKER TERMITES: performs the work of the colony. They construct earthen leads, search for and breakdown timber as well as feeding all the other castes. The worker caste has no wings, no prominent jaws and a lighter colour head than soldiers.
REPRODUCTIVES :once a colony has reached a certain population density, termites known as reproductives, are produced. These develop wings (they are then called alates) and when mature they leave the colony to establish new colonies.
Worker and soldier termites are blind and work 24 hours a day.
A large nest may contain several million termites with thousands added each day from the queen.
The average termite (worker/soldier) has a life span of up to four years.
A termite's favourite substance is cellulose, which can be found in most wood and paper products. Cellulose can be obtained through sources other than wood, such as grass and debris.
Termites can also attack carpet, plastic, soft metals (?) and electrical cabling.
Most pest species of termites have a high moisture requirement for the colony to survive. They have thin cuticles (skin), which must not dry out, or the termite will die.
Termites are attracted to concealed areas in houses such as the cavity wall, bathroom cabinets or wet areas
Termites can squeeze through gaps as small as 1mm.