Author : Lily.
Published : Fri, Feb 8 2019 :10 PM.
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Termites have a very thin cuticle (skin) and are subject to rapid desiccation (drying out) if exposed to the environment outside their enclosed habitat. In order to maintain a highly controlled environment, termites must live in a closed system. Colonies in wood are always contained within an outside shell of cellulose material. In this way, they are protected from exposure to the outside.
The worker termites are white in colour and approximately 6mm (1/4 inch) in length. Their antennae are straight (not elbowed) and the body is not narrowed at the waist, which distinguish them from ants. They have chewing mouth parts and are responsible for foraging and feeding the dependent members of the colony. The hind gut of the worker contains protozoa (single-celled animals) which assist in breaking down cellulose into its component parts which are digestible by the termite. The worker termite causes the structural damages.
The subterranean termite Reticulitermis flavipes (Kollar) is probably the most destructive and widely distributed species in North America. This species has acclimatized to southern Ontario to such a degree that 27 municipalities report some degree of infestation.
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The subterranean termite is very closely associated with the soil, which is its main source of life-sustaining moisture. Termite food consists of cellulose obtained from wood and wood products. Decaying damp wood is preferred but termites are also able to feed on sound, dry lumber.