Termite Queens

Termite queens are what it says on the tine, they are the queen. Termites are colony insects and they live in large specialized nests with specialized functions. As bees have a queen bee that rules the roost so does termites have a termite Queen. She has the extremely important function of controlling and being responsible for reproduction.

However termites do have multiple kings and queens which is another reason that termites are so difficult to eradicate once they have taken hold. When a new nest is formed any female termite that has mated and produced eggs is called a termite queen. The males that have mated with her then stay around her and they are termite kings and there may be many more than one termite king and queen in the nest. Equally when one dies another of the workers takes over her function.

However even termites have their pecking order and one queen will be the nest's primary queen. A fully mature termite queen can lay over two thousand eggs daily and not surprisingly this makes her rather fat and she has to be attended to by worker termites. Worker termites provide the food for al in the nests and the termite queens are no different. Once a worker becomes a queen then they develop extra ovaries and a distended abdomen to cope with the sheer volume of termite eggs. Pheromones emanating from the queen are spread via shared feeding to all the termites and it prevents other kings and queens from developing. So a termite queen has the muscle to change the balance of power in the termite nest.

Destroying a termites' nest is a harder task than identifying the queen and exterminating her because other termite queens are present and others will replace her functions when she dies. Even if the nest is no longer viable a new colony can be begun by a queen and a few workers, in fact it does not need a queen just a the workers with one taking on the work of the termite queen. This is another reason why it is almost impossible to eradicate a termite colony once it has become established; there are too many candidates for the job of termite queen.

Although killing a queen can be difficult it is possible to isolate the queens and cut off their food supply. All food comes into the nest via the termite workers, and if the termite workers can be diverted then the queens will starve. This technique for termite control involves a barrier method, which in effect can be chemical or physical. Boric acid acting as an insecticide can divert the workers. Other involves rather more toxic chemicals and the workers will find another route rather than cross it. This does not necessarily kill th4 colony but what it does do is prevent the colony from expanding as the environment is not perfect for termite expansion. It is hard to poison an entire colony of termites unless you use termite te4nting and gas them. However termite baits, termite traps and termite insecticides are an important deterrent. Learning where termites are likely to be and deterring them is the most effective way to deal with termites.

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By Frank Reece. Page last modified Nov. 10, 2008.

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