Bug of the Month: Termite Trivia

Bug of the Month: Termite Trivia

How much do YOU know about Termites? Test your knowledge right now with these 4 Termite Trivia questions!


  1. What good are termites, anyway?

Answer: While they can be pests to homeowners, termites are actually beneficial insects, ecologically speaking. Termites are important decomposers. 


They break down tough plant fibers, recycling dead and decaying trees into new soil. These hungry insects are vital to the health of our forests. As they tunnel, termites also aerate and improve the soil. It just so happens that we build our homes from termite food—wood.


  1. How can termites eat wood?

Answer: Termites digest cellulose with the help of microorganisms in their guts.


They feed on plants directly or on fungus growing on decaying plant material. The termite gut is loaded with microorganisms capable of breaking down cellulose. This symbiosis benefits both the termites and the microorganisms living within their insect hosts. The termites house the bacteria and protozoa, and harvest the wood. In return, the microorganisms digest the cellulose for the termites.


  1. Wait a minute, are these gut bacteria something termites are born with?

Answer: Nope! 


Termites feed on each other’s feces. Before they can start the hard work of eating trees, termites must obtain a supply of microorganisms for their digestive tracts. They engage in a practice known as trophallaxis (they eat each other’s poop). Termites must also resupply themselves after they molt, so feces eating is a big part of life in the termite mound.


  1. How long have termites been around?

Answer: Termites lived 130 million years ago, and descended from a cockroach-like ancestor.


Termites, cockroaches, and mantids all share a common ancestor in an insect that crawled the Earth about 300 million years ago. The fossil record’s earliest termite specimen dates back to the Cretaceous period. A termite holds the record for the oldest example of mutualism between organisms, too. A 100-million-year old termite with a ruptured abdomen was encased in amber, along with the protozoa that lived in its gut.


So how did you do? Share this with your friends and see how many THEY get right!


If you have a problem with termites in your home, give Ace Exterminating a call today!

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