Termites and Ink: Facts
Termite Is probably one of the most feared pests by many homeowners in Singapore. Often touted as destructive housing agents, termites can cause a range of damages to your home, be it structural or electrical.
Not only that, termites are also capable of posing a threat to your health when the infestation is out of control. Moreover, despite all your efforts to contain the infestation, termites always seem to find their way back into your home.
If you are curious about this destructive species, continue reading as we share some of the most interesting facts about termites, including their identification, biology and behaviour, colonies, and fascination with ink.
Researchers believe that there are about 2,750 species of termites, distributed throughout the world. However, the three common termite species that we know of (subterranean, drywood, and dampwood) present the biggest threat to many homeowners.
That is because they can infest your home from the ground up, directly into damp or damaged wood, or through mud tubes which they build along with your home’s concrete foundations.
Like any other insects, termites can be extremely difficult to identify, especially for those who have little knowledge about what each type looks like. Some may appear to have wings, while some do not have wings.
Termites shed their wings once they find a place to build their nest. That is why they are often confused with carpenter ants, but they can be differentiated by the body shape, straight antennae, and equal wing size.
Termite biology and behaviour
The basic castes in a termite colony consist of the queens, kings, workers, soldiers, and alates. The kings and queens are responsible for the colony’s reproduction which is to give life to the colony.
Termite workers make up the largest number within the colony. As the name suggests, they do all the work – feeding, grooming, excavating the nest and making tunnels – except defending (termite soldiers) and reproducing for the colony. Meanwhile, alates are winged termites that leave the nest and establish new colonies outside of their current nest.
Termites live in colonies and build their nests in soil and/or wood, which is connected by tunnels. Note that a single colony can have millions of termites and may spread across half the size of a football field.
To build their colonies, termites feed on wood, causing severe damages from the inside out. Dampwood termites will infest wet and damaged wood while drywood termites will infest and damage sound wood, along with wallpaper and plastics. This makes them one of the most feared species.
Termite ink fascination
Termites are not just attracted to water, they are also attracted to ink. The fascination with the ink in your pen is due to the chemical found in blue or black inks. It’s also one of the most surprising facts known to humankind.
Termites are social insects that live in colonies, feed on wood and other plant matter. Like ants, termites must communicate with other members of the colony to share information. But, did you know that most termites are blind and deaf, so how do they communicate with each other? The answer lies in a chemical scent called pheromones.
Termite workers and soldiers use their sense of touch and smell to identify each other and enemies, as well as to find food. Once a termite finds food, it releases pheromones as it returns to the colony. The pheromones work as an invisible chemical trail for other termites to follow.
That said, termites excrete different pheromones for specific purposes like finding a mate, warning other colony members of danger, and direct foraging activities. Without these pheromones, blind and deaf termites would lose their way and never make it back home.
Additionally, termites also follow trails produced by chemicals that mimic pheromones such as alcohol, fatty acids, and ink. However, termites do not follow just any ink trail. Ballpoint pens with blue ink are probably the only ones capable of attracting termites.
Experts believe that a compound in blue ink called 2-phenoxyethanol is the closest substance that mimics the pheromones produced by termites. Using the ink as part of your termite control may not be the most practical method because it can lure them to a tasty pesticide treat that they can bring back to the nest.
At PestBusters, we offer a specialised termite management service, designed to eradicate termite colonies based on the property type. We will apply premium chemicals onto the property to provide a treated zone within the soil while allowing termites to pick up low doses of the chemical. They will then pass on the chemical residue in their nests and eradicate the entire colony.
Do not wait for too long to contact us as you may prolong the chances of pests breeding around your house. Contact us at (+65) 6288 2828 or 24-hour response (+65) 9180 9990, or enquire online for effective pest control services now!