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I would like to start off with the termites. They belong to the insect order “Isoptera”. termites are very interesting and the public knows very little about them. They hear of rumors or tales of termites eating up a house right from under a homeowner. Though they can literally do this, it would take a very large colony and very long time to actually cause a house, catastrophic structural damage.

First let’s look at the Eastern Subterranean Termite (Reticulitermes flavipes) the insect.  Though there are more than 2000 species, the distinguishing trait of the termite is that it is a two segmented insect, whereas all others are three segmented. They have a head and an abdomen.  They are the only known insects that can actually digest wood cellulous. Other wood destroying insects such as Carpenter ants, Carpenter bees, and various wood destroying beetles and wasps may bore into wood, nest in wood, spend parts of the life cycle in wood, but only the mighty termite actually has the ability to consume wood.

termite detectionTermites are social insects that have an organizational structure. They live in large nests and have various types of individuals that perform various functions within the colony. Different castes exist in the termite colony.  Individuals that are morphologically and functionally different from other individuals in a colony, make up a caste. Three castes are commonly found in most termite colonies. These are:

  1. The reproductive caste consists of the queen and the king termites, as well as, any supplemental reproductive termites. These supplemental reproductives are those adult termites that are produced within the colony, usually after the death of the king and/or queen. They are also produced when the colony has grown so large that many of the termites in the colony become isolated from the main colony.  At that time new reproductives are produced. Supplemental reproductives never have full wings (they have short wings or no wing at all). They do not have the dispersal flight king and queen swarmers have prior to their establishing new colonies. The king and queen termites are also known as the alates, swarmers or primary reproductives. They’re not produced by the colony until at least 3-4 years after it’s inception.
  2. The worker caste are the termites that make up the majority of the termites in a given colony. The workers consist of both males and females. They are wingless, usually without compound eyes, usually unpigmented and thus whitish in color. The workers duties include, foraging for food, feed the queen, soldiers and young, construct and repair the mud tubes, groom the reproductives, soldiers, and young. They also help defend the colony when needed.
  3. The soldier caste primary function is to defend of the colony. Soldiers of the eastern subterranean termite are easily recognized by their large heads and mandibles. They use these mandibles to bite any invaders that may attack the colony.  Soldiers are not produced in quantity until the colony is farther along in its development.  Soldiers cannot feed themselves; they are fed by the workers. The soldiers of most species are without eyes, some species have soldiers with very tiny eyes.

The Life Cycle
After a swarm, male and female reproductives seek out a new nesting site. A female will find a suitable nesting site. Males follow close behind her as she releases a pheromone/chemical attractant. The closest male following her will retire to the nesting site. They dig into the soil and then seal themselves inside. Mating occurs within hours or weeks after the pair is sealed in the nest site. These termites continue to mate for life, unlike ants that mate only once. This species of termites produce about 60 eggs per day. Other species are known to produce up to 86,400 per day. The eggs will hatch in about 50 days.  The queen termite will never leave the nest again. She becomes what is called an egg-laying machine. The workers will take care of her-feeding and grooming her. They move the eggs as they are produced. The eggs are hatched into small termites called nymphs.  Nymphs are capable of becoming any one of the castes (workers, soldiers, or reproductives). Which caste they develop into is determined by the needs of the colony.

These are the fun facts about the eastern subterranean termite that is common in Pennsylvania.  I figure we can use some of this information in the pamphlet for informational purposes.

As far as a story line goes, I’m not locked into any particular story per se.  Though I will tell you that many times I will inspect a home and find no visible evidence to suspect that termites are present.  However, once I start to probe wooden framing and floor joists, it is always a surprise when my screwdriver goes right through a 3”x9” joist like it was nothing.  Just today this was the case.  I would like to see “Krome” depicted as the “Inspector” that is there for the home buyer/or homeowner, to protect them from these, often times, invisible eating machines. Krome is there with his keen sense of detection, knowing exactly where termites typically like to enter a dwelling. He knows the conducive conditions that provide the perfect conditions for a termite invasion, and Krome is there to educate the homebuyer on what to do to keep termites at bay. 

For one, a homebuyer needs to fix any known leaks as soon as possible. Termites need moisture.  If they can get the moisture they need within the home, they do not have to return to the ground to get it. Two, homeowners need to keep shrubbery away from the structure so the building can be visually inspected for shelter tubing that may be constructed by termites. Three, they should keep firewood and other wood products or debris away from the foundation including old tree stumps. Four, they should avoid any wood to soil contact.  This is common in older homes where stair stringers are buried in the concrete slabs. Lastly, they should have Krome out to there home annually for routine termite inspections.

termites: home invasion
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