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Termite Kings & Queens Use Recognition Pheromones to Communicate with Worker Termites

Termites have been known to exist for 150,000,000 years! The Eastern Subterranean Termite is the most destructive and widely distributed termite species found in the U.S. today and cause millions of dollars in damage every year. Pittsburgh and surrounding areas are known to be of high risk for these pests and nearly 1 in 5 homes have been or will be affected by the Eastern Subterranean Termite. They are known to swarm in early Spring on a clear morning after a warm rain shower. They prefer moist, dark environments, and live in wood or underground. These termites have no eyes and are therefore blind and use chemical signals to communicate. An Eastern Subterranean Termite queen can live up to 25 years and is a breeding powerhouse producing up to 2,000 eggs at a time! The king and queen will nest in a moist central chamber to reproduce while the worker termites care for them.

Heneicosane Termite Pheromone

There is still a lot yet to be discovered about the Eastern Subterranean Termite, but a recent study done by the Entomology department at North Carolina State University and the National Academy of Sciences have discovered that termite royalty emit a chemical consisting of carbon and hydrogen atoms known as Heneicosane. Studies have shown it to be present on the bodies of king and queen subterranean termites and when emitted is enables worker termites to recognize their presence and work to care for the royals. This was the first report of this pheromone being present on queen termites, and the first known report of its presence on kings out of all the insects. Scientists used gas chromatography to isolate and identify this specific chemical on the royal termite’s bodies and found Heneicosane on the body of royals’ but not workers. In this study, UNC placed the pheromone on a glass queen dummy and noted that worker termites literally shook when they were exposed to the pheromone. The worker termites shook even more when Heneicosane was combined with other hydrocarbons from colony workers that imitated the scent of their colony. When workers are exposed to these pheromones, it indicates royals’ presence and indicates they are home and everything is fine within the colony.

Termite Inspections & Control

Termites area a social insect like bees, wasps, or ants. There is a working order and each one has their own specific job within the colony. They communicate and work together. Termites live underground and therefore rarely show themselves making their presence difficult to detect until a problem becomes severe. There are several different techniques that a licensed, experienced pest control company such as Stewart Termite & Pest Control will use to prevent or treat a termite infestation. Having regularly scheduled pest maintenance here in Pennsylvania is extremely important because we are at a high risk of termite infestations. Preventing a termite issue is much more affordable than treating one. Especially when it can cause damage to the structure of our homes resulting in thousands of dollars in damage. Contact Stewart Termite & Pest Control to schedule a termite inspection today!

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