As with to us humans, termites are undoubtedly sociable creatures - they look after one another! However, whilst some of us may moan about our teenage sons "eating us out of house and home" these little mites literally can do precisely that.
You will find termites living in colonies in vast numbers anything from hundreds of thousands to many millions - all part of one enormous family! They all work as a group in an extremely organised way to find and gather food in the form of cellulose (in many cases from the wooden structure of buildings) so that the colony to grow and expand. This amazing team work is known as "swarm intelligence" and is the the reason why termites are so successful in their survival.
However, as you would expect in any organisation termites appear to have ranks - a bit like the armed forces, certain termites specialize in certain tasks.
The biggest group and most likely the lowest ranking termites are the "workers." These continuously search for food utilizing the tunnels they have constructed which go from the colony nest, underground and into the wood which can easily be the frame of your house! They do this round the clock as well as looking after the queen, her young and the other termites. This is because that only the worker termites can digest the cellulose matter, so they have to regurgitate it back at the colony to feed the other termites.
You will almost certainly never catch any of these worker termites away from the underground tunnels and the nest. How would you recognise one? well, they are light coloured and have a soft body and typically measure no more than 10 mm in length. They are often likened to a grain of rice.
Soldier termites appear to be next, these have longer heads and amazingly powerful jaws. As the title "soldier termite" would suggest these members of the family are charged with security. They will defend the nest from intruders, most often from ants who try to invade.
Thirdly there are the termites responsible for breeding and the setting up of new colonies. Both males and females grow wings and leave their home colony in a massive swarm to begin the mating and breeding process elsewhere.
The Queen - seen as the most important of the termites and the largest usually approximately 10cm in length and without help she is immobile. To move the queen it needs quite a few hundreds of termites to push her. This the the termite responsible for populating the colony, would you believe she will lay an egg every 15 seconds? If she should die she is replaced quickly with another reproductive termite.
The chances of you ever seeing any of these termite troops in action around your property is around zero - unless you witness a swarm leaving the nest, even then it is not obvious whether it is termites or not. However, signs of these pests will become obvious should they begin to attack the wooden structure of your home!
Should you suspect a termite problem you must seek advise from a professional quickly