Termites are interesting creatures that play a vital role in their ecosystem. There are three types of termites: workers, soldiers, and reproductives. The soldiers are responsible for protecting the colony from predators and pests while the workers build and maintain the nest. This blog post from our termite control specialist will discuss the roles and functions of the termite soldier!
Identifying Termite Soldiers
Soldiers are easy to identify because they are larger than the workers. They also have a different head shape and brownish-black coloring. Their mandibles (jaws) are also much larger than those of the workers, and they use them for fighting off predators and pests.
The Functions of a Termite Soldier
Termite soldiers have several important functions within the colony. Their primary role is to protect the colony from predators and pests. They also play a role in building and maintaining the nest and can be responsible for moving food around it. In some species, they are even responsible for guarding the eggs and young termites.
An ant is a termite’s major foe. Soldiers, with their enormous heads and mandibles, are well suited to combat insects (usually ants) that infiltrate the colony. An alarm pheromone can alert soldiers to an invasion and bring them to the attack site. Termite soldiers have a tube-like extension (known as a fontanelle) that holds a sticky substance that entraps their adversaries in some species.
Soldiers are also responsible for plugging gaps in the mud tubes that run from the earth to a food supply above ground, using their huge and hardened heads. Workers will rapidly patch up the holes in the tube walls.
Termite Soldiers Bite
In some cases, termite soldiers have been known to bite people who invade their territory. While their bites are not harmful, they can be quite painful. If you see a termite soldier in your home, it is best to leave it alone and call a professional pest control company for help.
The Lifespan of Termite Soldiers
Termite soldiers typically have a lifespan of one to two years. As they age, their color changes from brownish-black to yellow or cream. Termites progress from eggs to larvae (nymphs) and ultimately to adults.
As they mature into workers, soldiers, or alates, nymphs go through a sequence of molts. When they die, their bodies are often cannibalized by the other termites in the colony.
Damage Caused by Termite Soldiers
Termite soldiers are not always welcomed guests in a home. While their primary role is to protect the colony, and they do not eat wood, they do protect the workers who do.
By slamming their heads against tunnel walls and causing vibrations, these pests warn the colony of impending danger. They also aid workers in the repair and construction of tunnels.
Check for these warning indicators if you discover soldier termites in or around your home or if you suspect termite activity in general:
- Floorboards that have buckled or are sagging.
- On your walls and/or ceilings, you’ll notice bubbling paint and discoloration that looks like water damage.
- Mud tubes flow up vertical structures, outside or beneath your house, and especially around your foundation.
- Close investigation reveals small holes in your drywall with tiny flecks of dirt or even termite mud tubes.
- Any type of wood damage that follows the grain of the wood, results in a ribbed appearance in the wood around your house.
- When tapped, the wood produces a hollow sound.
- Mounds of what appear to be little wood pellets in and around the wooden structures of your home
Dealing With Termite Soldiers
If you have a termite infestation, it is best to contact a professional pest control company. They will be able to identify the species of termites and determine the best way to get rid of them. Termites can cause extensive damage to your home if left untreated.
FAQ’s About Termite Soldiers
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about termite soldiers:
Do Soldier Termites Have Eyes?
Soldier termites do not have eyes, but they do have antennae that allow them to feel their way around.
Do Soldier Termites Have Wings?
Soldier termites do not have wings. The appearance of these termites is considerably different from that of reproductive termites.
What Is the Scientific Name of Soldier Termite?
The scientific name for soldier termites is Termitidae.
As you can see, termites have a very complex and interesting social structure that helps them survive and thrive. Their soldiers play an important role in defending the colony from predators and intruders while their workers build and maintain the nest.
By understanding the different roles and functions of these termite castes, you can better protect your homes and businesses from these pests. If you have additional questions in mind, feel free to contact us today!