Living With Termite Nests

Head of Eastern Subterranean Termite

The Eastern Subterranean Termite, Reticulotermes flavipes, is one of the most destructive termite pests in the US. This termite builds multiple interconnected galleries in wood.  When nesting in a wooden structure, multiple interconnected galleries require substantially more chewing of the wood to create tunnels and hollow out space for new galleries. If the termite colony made a single gallery, the termites would be easier to locate and damage to be repaired restricted in location. However, Reticulitermes flavipes makes multiple galleries, sometimes abandoning the original location to another remote site.

Why do these termites build multiple galleries? There are multiple hypotheses, but no definitive answer. It may be a strategy to escape pathogens that can contaminate a nest area. It may be to locate to a better food source or closer to water. In nature, feeding by these termites is primarily on dead trees and logs. Creation of multiple interconnected galleries allows numerous smaller pieces of wood to be colonized and through interconnections the colony can grow to a size unlimited by available food.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living With Termite Nests

  1. Pingback: Living With Termite Nests – Entomo Planet

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