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Can Termites Survive Without A Soldier Caste?

Filed under: Termite Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:36 pm December 29, 2017

Can Termites Survive Without A Soldier Caste?

Termites have evolved a variety of different and often bizarre forms of defense. But no matter how effective the defensive tactics of termites may be, these insects are nevertheless vulnerable to numerous predators in the wild. This vulnerability is due to their relatively small size. Given the fact that termites are highly sought by after by many different insect predators, termite soldiers are constantly working to protect their colonies. Without a soldier caste, termites would become extinct in a very short time. But not all termite species in the world require the services of a soldier caste. Surprisingly, there are a few different species of termite that are able to survive without soldiers. Despite not having a soldier caste, these termites have no problem thriving in forest environments.

The termite species that are known for not having any type of a soldier caste include Apicotermes, Anoplotermes, Protohamitermes, and Invasitermes.  These soldierless termite species belong to the Termitidae family. Instead of having combative soldiers that are ready to die for their colonies, soldierless termite colonies dispatch workers to protect nests from hostile invasions. These workers will not necessarily fight predatory insects, but they will patch up holes in a nest that are made by invading enemies. These worker termites sometimes outwit invader ants by sealing them in chambers located within termite nests. Many termite colonies that survive without soldiers will have defensive workers. These workers sometimes resort to kamikaze-style attacks against invaders. Defensive worker termites will cause their own bodies to rupture which releases a sticky and often poisonous substance. This sticky substance renders predator insects immobile while they die from its toxic compounds.

Most soldierless termites rarely encounter insect predators since they don’t often forage in dangerous areas. Defenseless termites spend most of their time feeding on rotting wood or humus that is located in one single area that is as close as possible to their nests. Soldierless termites are rare, but most of them can be found in South America and Africa. The termite species that is referred to as Protohamitermes globiceps is an example of a rare soldierless termite species from Asia.

Do you think that termite colonies could benefit in some way without a soldier caste?

 

 

 

 

In Some Parts Of The World Termite Swarms Are A Welcome Sight

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Termite Control — Tags: , — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:26 pm December 27, 2017

In Some Parts Of The World Termite Swarms Are A Welcome Sight

As far as homeowners in America are concerned, there is nothing more troubling than spotting termite swarms. When homeowners spot termite swarms near their homes, they have good reason to be concerned about possible infestations. There is nothing positive about finding a mass of flying termites near a person’s home. For westerners, termite swarms are viewed as nothing but infestation warning signs. However, relative to other countries in the world, Americans should feel lucky that termite swarms are not more abundant in North America. For example, in Thailand termite swarms fill the sky and are noticed by everyone. Termite swarms are so thick in Thailand that they become visible in the headlights of vehicles, street lights, and fluorescent light bulbs. They can be heard burrowing at the base of people’s doors in order to reach indoor light sources. If these massive termite swarms occured in America, there would be mass panics, but for people living in Thailand, these termite swarms are a welcome sight. This is due to the popularity of edible termites that swarm during Thailand’s rainy season. These tasty termites are referred to as “mang mao” insects in Thailand.

The rainy season in Thailand occurs between May and October. The mang mao insects take flight at night in between these months, mostly during May and June. Fans of these edible termites will keep their windows open in order to draw mang mao insects to indoor bright lights. These termites do not pose a threat to homes in these cases since swarming mang mao termites must promptly locate moist soil in order to survive. Despite their need for moist soil, mang mao insects cannot help being sidetracked by the allure of bright lights. Once these swarming termites reach bright indoor lights, they soon die off due to a lack of moisture. Many Thai citizens use brooms in order to sweep up large piles of dead mang mao termites in their homes and outdoor locations. The collected termites are then fed to animals and are also used in culinary preparations for people’s enjoyment.

Would you eat mang mao termites if you were a visitor in Thailand?

 

 

Will Termites Attack Reconstituted Wood?

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control,Termites — Tags: , , — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:51 pm December 26, 2017

Will Termites Attack Reconstituted Wood?

Most homes are built with timber-wood, but is this the best material available for home construction? Termites are an understandable source of worry and stress for many homeowners. It would be nice to alleviate this worry by owning a home that was constructed from cellulose-free materials, which the termite diet requires. But unless a person is willing to live in one of those large shipping containers that are becoming popular, timber-framed homes are nearly the only option on the market. However, the lumber that is used to build homes is treated for several reasons, one of which is to minimize or prevent termite damage. Almost all homes are made with treated lumber. But chemical lumber treatments do not repel insect damage forever. Eventually, chemical lumber treatments wear off, but what about reconstituted wood? Some people are interested in reconstituted wood because it is not appetizing to termites. Medium density fibreboard (MDF) is the most commonly used type of reconstituted wood. MDF is wood pulp that has been glued together to resemble typical lumber. Although MDF still contains cellulose, termites do not like the taste of the glue contained in MDF materials. Because of this many people believe that homes made from MDF are ideal for avoiding termite infestations. However, experts believe that homeowners are better off owning timber-framed homes.

It may seem ridiculous to regard timber as a more ideal building material than MDF given the fact that timber is targeted by hungry termites. Most homes are already built with MDF materials. For example, door frames are usually not pieces of timber, but instead MDF. Homes made from MDF will not be completely free of timber. In these homes MDF is used for exterior areas that are visible. But timber is still used behind walls and in other unseen areas in order to create a strong support structure. Homeowners are better off using one hundred percent timber. That way invading termites will infest the first lumber structures that they encounter, which are usually out in the open and clearly visible.

If timber is only used in unseen locations of a home, then termites will begin to infest areas that are out of sight. In these cases even inspectors can have a hard time locating termite infestations. A home made entirely from lumber will allow homeowners to notice termite damage in enough time to prevent serious structural problems. MDF may be cheaper, but paint does not look as attractive when applied to reconstituted wood, and some incredibly cheap types of MDF are readily consumed by termites. Timber-framed homes are almost always the best choice for homeowners, even when considering the possibility of termite infestations.

Have you ever known someone to have purposely chosen reconstituted wood over genuine lumber in order to prevent termite infestations?

How Do Termites Find Enough Food To Feed A Colony?

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Termite Control — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:36 pm December 22, 2017

How Do Termites Find Enough Food To Feed A Colony?

Since termites feed on dead plant matter, you would think that finding enough sustenance would be easy for them. After all, there is dead plant matter littering the ground in every direction we look. Some termites do not even require vegetation to be dead before munching away. This is why several termite species in areas of Africa and Asia are considered pests to crops. Although cellulose containing materials are plentiful in environments that are both natural and manmade, there are also a whole lot of individual termites existing on the planet today. Keeping every termite in a colony adequately fed is not always an easy task for foraging termites.  Most termite colonies often contain several hundred thousand individual termites. Amazingly, Formosan subterranean termite colonies can contain millions of individual termites. This is why colonies need to be located in areas where foraging termites can access an abundant amount of dead plant life. This is not always easy, which makes special foraging protocols sometimes necessary. Termites are always able to locate food, but the process of foraging is not as straightforward as many people would assume. Surprisingly, when it comes to termite behavior, entomologists and other experts do not know exactly how termites locate food. Despite this lack of knowledge, termites are known for resorting to different foraging methods.

Termite colonies include a queen and a king. The queen is obviously responsible for producing more termites. If a queen dies, then several secondary reproductive termites will begin to reproduce in the queen’s place. A colony can contain hundreds of secondary reproductives, causing an increase in a colony’s population. When a colony’s population increases, it can become difficult for worker termites to locate an adequate amount of food in just one area. In response to this overpopulation, secondary reproductives can establish new nests elsewhere, thus expanding the colony’s foraging territory.

Researchers cannot easily determine how far termites will travel for food. Foraging termites belonging to smaller colonies may not travel any farther than a few yards away from their nest. Other colonies may contain termites that travel within an area as large as a football field when searching for food. Food availability is a major factor concerning a colony’s foraging range, but this is far from being the only factor. It has been theorized that when smaller related colonies establish nests in new areas, the foraging range becomes much greater. Subterranean termites also forage above ground, as people who have fallen victim to termite infestations well know. Above ground foraging requires the building of “exploratory mud tubes” so that foraging termites can protect themselves from other arthropod predators, most of which are ants. Only worker termites gather food for a colony, as soldiers possess mandibles that are too big for feeding. This is why workers are tasked with feeding soldiers.

Do you think that termite predators invade nests solely for the purpose of consuming the large-bodied queen, as they are more nutritious and much larger than soldiers and workers?

An Artistic Exhibit On Invasive Insects Is Drawing Crowds At A Mobile Gallery

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:30 pm December 21, 2017

An Artistic Exhibit On Invasive Insects Is Drawing Crowds At A Mobile Gallery

If you were to visit Washington DC where would you go? The Washington Monument? The White House? The Lincoln Memorial? Or maybe a few of the many acclaimed museums in our nation’s capital. Most people would probably find the idea of visiting an exhibit in order to learn about insects to be a major drag. However, DC is currently the location where a particularly intriguing mobile educational exhibition has just made a stop. The insect exhibition is called The“Adaptation/Migration in the Anthropocene,” and it is becoming the most popular attraction at SPACE4. SPACE4 is a mobile gallery that includes a few different exhibitions. The SPACE4 program was initiated by an association named Cultural DC. A DC resident has gained the attention of many tourists and natives in DC due to her artwork depicting invasive insects. The exhibition features multiple galleries that combine science and art for the entertainment of spectators. The insect exhibition is mobile and will travel to other major cities in the United States.

The woman heading up the insect-themed exhibition has used her artisitic talents to draw public attention towards invasive insects. Her name is Maggie Gourlay, and one of the more popular aspects of her exhibit are detailed illustrations of four particularly damaging invasive insects that are found in the US. These insects include the emerald ash borer, the Asian long-horned beetle, the pine shoot beetle, and the brown marmorated stink bug. Gourlay is also showing colored pencil drawings of twelve additional invasive insects in America. Gourlay enlarged the insects by ten times their size in order to draw attention to particular bodily features. The term “Anthropo” is used in the exhibitions title and it refers to the term “Anthropocene”, which is the geological period that we are currently living in. Gourlay is using art to express the change in ecology that results from global warming, as the current Anthropocene period is characterized by mankind’s damaging influence on the natural environment. The exhibit shows how climate change worsens the negative consequences that result from invasive insect activity.

Would you be interested in learning about the effects that climate change has on insect life in general, and not just invasive insects?

Termite Mounds Are Visible On Google Earth

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Termite Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:03 pm December 20, 2017

Termite Mounds Are Visible On Google Earth

The advanced forms of technology that exist today could not have been imagined thirty years ago. Everything from the internet to iphones and to remote piloted drone aircrafts are radically changing the world as we know it. These complicated modern technologies are making certain aspects of life more convenient, depending on your point of view. Google Earth is only one example of the many modern technological marvels that are available to everyday people. Within seconds anyone with an internet connection can view up-to-date aerial photographs of any region in the world. Viewing aerial images through Google Earth has allowed people to learn things about the world that even the most intelligent engineers and futurists would not have predicted. For example, the satellite technology that allows modern people to use Google Earth has also allowed scientists and academics to observe natural land formations that most people would assume could not be viewed through this technology. It turns out that many different types of termite mounds can be visibly located by using Google earth. This technology has made the lives of many entomologists much easier.

Not long ago a study was published describing a natural land formation known as “fairy circles”. These land formations are unexplained circular patches that scientists have found in the grasslands of the Namib Desert. Many different theories as to what caused the mysterious circles have been put forth over the years. Eventually, researchers gathered enough evidence to safely assume that the circular patches were caused by termite activity. Recently these very patches have been located on aerial images that were accessed from Google Earth. Not long after these images were discovered, other insect experts used Google Earth to locate termite mounds in the country of Zambia located in Africa. Before long multiple termite mounds were located on Google Earth images. Cathedral mounds, for example, are odd types of termite mounds that are known for being tall. These mounds were located on Google Street View. Before Google Earth allowed entomologists to take stock of termite mounds from the internet, they had to travel to these hot arid locations and literally count the mounds before making educated guesses as to how many existed. Now Google Earth has proven that entomologists have been overestimating the amount of certain types of termite mounds that are located in various regions. Google Earth has improved research methods in the field of entomology. Several studies have been published that describe how Google Earth has led to more accurate data concerning termite mounds.

Do you believe that it would be easy to misidentify mound types by relying on aerial images taken from Google Earth?

Some Insect Populations Are Being Killed-Off By Other Insects

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: , — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:25 pm December 19, 2017

Some Insect Populations Are Being Killed-Off By Other Insects

We all know wasps as being fear inducing flying insects that may sting us while we’re innocently picnicking outdoors. As far as most people are concerned, wasps are not much different than bees. Both bees and wasps sting, which makes them two flying insects that people avoid; and bees make honey, while wasps don’t, which is about the entirety of our knowledge about the two insects. However, most people do not fully understand how menacing wasps can be to other living things. Most bee species perform beneficial tasks that make life for humans easier, and they do not damage the state of the natural environment in any way. Wasps, on the other hand, can spell disaster for particular ecosystems. In fact, some wasps may even be contributing to the current decrease in insect populations. For example, a wasp species that is native to New Zealand is currently killing-off vast amounts of insects on the island country. This sharp decrease in native insects may spell disaster for New Zealand’s ecosystem.

In New Zealand, insect populations can decrease dramatically within a matter of hours as a result of inhabiting areas where killer wasps are abundant. Some native insect species in the country are nearing extinction due to the predatory behavior of wasps. According to Victoria University insect ecologist Professor Phil Lester, some native insect species in New Zealand have definitely become extinct solely because of the country’s murderous wasp population. The forest ringlet butterfly is one example of a native insect that New Zealanders never see anymore. The wasp population is now regarded as an environmental hazard due to their tendency to drive environmentally beneficial insects into extinction.

In order to combat the growing wasp population in New Zealand a community campaign aimed at controlling the wasp population took form last year. This community, along with several conservation groups and the Department of Conservation (DOC) teamed up last year to reduce the wasp population in the country. The campaign was a success as wasp populations decreased by ninety eight percent as a result of the campaign’s control efforts. However, wasps have become a problem once again in New Zealand.

One researcher from the University of Auckland placed wasps and many other insects and spiders into shared environments in order to determine how wasps effected arthropod populations. It turned out that the majority of spiders and insects were killed by wasps within the first half hour of sharing a common environment. Also, honey bees in New Zealand are not as numerous as they once were due to falling prey to wasps. The reduction of honey bees in the country has resulted in an economic hit of one hundred and thirty three million dollars per year in New Zealand. Luckily, citizens of New Zealand are becoming more concerned about the natural environment as a result of this wasp-induced environmental crisis.

Will it take a collective effort on the part of New Zealand’s citizenry to end the wasp related threat to the country’s ecosystem?

Is Canada Too Cold For The Survival Of Termites?

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control,Termites — Tags: , , — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:04 pm December 18, 2017

Is Canada Too Cold For The Survival Of Termites?

Termites exist in every state in America except for Alaska. As you can guess, temperatures in Alaska are too cold to sustain termite life. However, termites do exist north of the United States. Termites are certainly much more rare in Canada, and many Canadians do not worry about their homes becoming infested with termites. One termite group that does exist in Canada is a type of dampwood termite. Dampwood termites are not as numerous in the United States as subterranean and drywood termites. In Canada only one species of dampwood termite has been found infesting homes. This species is known as Zootermopsis angusticollis. These termites are only found on the Pacific coast of Canada in British Columbia. Although most dampwood termites are only found in coastal American states, Zootermopsis angusticollis is the most prevalent of all dampwood termites existing in the United States.

Zootermopsis angusticollis termites range from Baja, California all the way up into Canada. Zootermopsis angusticollis termites are only found in the states of California, Oregon and Washington. These termites prefer cool and humid coastal areas. This is why Zootermopsis angusticollis termites find Canadian coastal regions to be ideal. In more southern regions of the US, these termites have been found at high altitudes where temperatures are low. Sometimes these termites are found six thousand feet above sea level. Zootermopsis angusticollis termites possess the largest body size of all dampwood termites and they are tolerant of environments with excessively high moisture levels. In fact, these termites are sometimes found infesting piles of wood that are floating down streams and rivers. These termites are also partial to trees that protrude from the surface of water and they often infest wooden structures that are built over bodies of water. Colony sizes are relatively low in number, as a colony of Zootermopsis angusticollis termites rarely contain more than four thousand individual termites.

Had you ever known someone who discovered an infestation of dampwood termites?

Termites Can Reveal How Our Ancestors Migrated Across Earth

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control,Termite Control — Tags: — New Jersey Pest Control @ 3:58 pm December 14, 2017

Termites Can Reveal How Our Ancestors Migrated Across Earth

The regions of earth where modern termite species dwell has raised many interesting questions for scientists. Pinpointing modern termite habitats is not difficult. Scientists know where certain termite species exist today. However, signs of prehistoric termite activity have been discovered in regions where certain termite species are no longer located. In these situations it seems clear that certain termite species had, at some point, migrated to new regions of the globe where they are still active today. This is not necessarily unusual, as climatic conditions on earth have changed dramatically in the past. These past climatic changes have forced all animal species, living and extinct, to relocate to more hospitable environments. But you would not expect tiny insects to be capable of traveling great distances, especially over large bodies of water. The subterranean termite species known as Macrotermes gilvus is active in southeast Asia. At some point in the distant past, these termites managed to reach islands such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. So how did termites travel across the ocean? The answer to that question has also helped researchers understand how our human ancestors migrated to different parts of the world thousands, and even millions of years ago.

Today sea levels are much higher than they were when mankind’s early ancestors walked the earth. Due to lower sea levels, there once existed ancient land masses that connected modern islands with mainland continents. The Macrotermes gilvus termite species traveled these land masses to their farthest reaches over many thousands of years. These termites remained there after sea levels rose above the connective land masses. Researchers have recently found genetic evidence of these particular ancient termite migrations. Genetic markers in modern Macrotermes gilvus termites reveal the migratory routes taken by these termites when they dispersed two million years ago from a region that is now located in mainland Myanmar. Experts believe that our humanoid ancestors also took advantage of these land masses when searching for more agreeable habitats. These ancient land bridges have long been the go-to explanation for the modern existence of termites on islands. But only recently has this assumption been backed up by hard science.

Do you think it would have taken thousands of years and many generations of gradual travel for termites to reach areas of land that are now islands?

Economists Put A Price Tag On The Recent And Dramatic Loss Of Insect Life

Filed under: Horizon Pest Control,Pest Control — Tags: , — New Jersey Pest Control @ 4:17 pm December 13, 2017

Economists Put A Price Tag On The Recent And Dramatic Loss Of Insect Life

By now you are probably aware that insect populations around the world have decreased tremendously over the past three decades. There is no reason to believe that insect populations are not still decreasing. There have been plenty of indicators suggesting that this shortage of insects is a global issue. However, researchers in Germany have proven that insects are far less numerous in Europe today than they were thirty years ago. This loss of insect life is troubling considering how important insects are to the ecosystem as well as to the global economy. In Germany, for example, bees are important farm animals. In fact, bees are considered just as important as hogs or cattle when it comes to food production in Central Europe. What economic consequences will the world face if bees and other forms of insect life disappear entirely? The idea of bees, and other economically important insects, becoming extinct is a possibility that is now being entertained by experts. One particular association that was formed by the European Union is tasked with assigning a monetary value to natural occurrences. This association is known as the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). Officials working for TEEB are now attempting to calculate the economic costs of the potentially disastrous insect decline.

In the Chinese province of Sichuan apple trees are numerous, and farmers harvest apples in this region for national distribution. Before the apple trees bear fruit, bees must pollinate a wealth of white flowers that grow from the trees. The only problem is that all of the bees are now gone. This means farmers are forced to knock the flowers around with a pole in order to knock pollen loose, thus facilitating the process of pollination. Similar scenarios will soon become a reality in many other parts of the world. In order for TEEB to accurately attach a monetary value to the dramatic loss of insects, the impact of the loss will have to be applied to each agricultural product that results from insect activity.

In Germany massive amounts of honey are sold to consumers. In 2016 Germans spent three hundred and eighty seven million dollars on honey. But with much fewer bees, honey will become more scarce and prices will increase by a massive amount. TEEB is now attempting to calculate the labor costs of using humans as pollinators as opposed to bees. These costs would be enormous, as the agricultural work performed by insects is worth one hundred and fifty billion dollars per year globally. Without pollinating insects, most farms would not be able to afford the costs of hiring human labor to fill the roles that have always been occupied by pollinating insects.

Do you believe that the disastrous trend concerning insect population levels will change for the better at some point?

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