Structure, Appearance and Characteristics
This destructive species of termite has two types of soldier. These are named Major and Minor. They are very similar in appearance with only a few subtle differences.
- These have mandibles with teeth on inner faces.
- Fontanelle is present.
- Tarsi – 4 segments.
- Abdominal cerci – 2 segments.
- Pronotum is flat with no anterior lobes.
- Pale, yellowish brown in colour.
The Major Soldier
- Has a bulbous head.
- Is approximately 5.0 –7.5 mm in length.
- Have thick exoskeletons.
The Minor Soldier
- Has a narrower head with slender mandibles.
- Is approximately 3.0-5.0 mm in length.
The queens’ primary purpose is reproduction. Unlike some other species of termite, she will lay her eggs one at a time.
The development of the termite is a gradual process. The stages of development are:
Upon hatching, the nymphs are then fed by the workers until they eventually develop into adults. This developmental phase is affected by temperature, the availability of food and general health of the colony. As a result, the workers will feed the nymphs for approximately 2 – 3 months before they hit maturity.
During this phase the nymph will go on to moult 4-7 times before finally maturing into a soldier, a worker or winged reproductive. Soldiers and workers can live for 1-2 years. Kings and queens can live for over 20 years.
The termite colony consists of 4 distinctive castes. These are the –
King and Queen
After reaching maturity, young winged reproductives (alates) leave the colony in order to mate and establish new termite colonies. Once a suitable site has been found for colonising, they shed their wings and turn into kings and queens. These kings and queens are responsible for the creation of a whole new termite colony. After mating the queen will lay several eggs. While a new colony is being developed, this pair must feed and care for the young. This will continue until there are enough workers in the colony to assist the queen in looking after the brood. The king will spend its entire life alongside the queen in the central nursery.
The worker caste is the most common in any termite colony. They are responsible for all the tasks in the colony except for reproduction and defence. They build the nest, collect food and care for the young. They also feed the soldiers and the young reproductives.
The workers of both sexes are blind, wingless and sterile. Their outer covering is soft and unpigmented, making them vulnerable to the sun. Because of this, the workers will spend most of their time in moist and damp environments. These workers are responsible for all the damage done to timber. Their life span is approximately 1 to 2 years.
Like the workers, soldiers are also blind, wingless and sterile. They are also vulnerable to the sun and rarely leave the colony. Soldiers cannot feed themselves and need to be fed by the workers. The primary role of the soldier is to defend the colony. They do this using their powerful jaws or by ejecting a sticky repellent from the fontanelle. This is a hole located on the top of the head.
The reproductive caste has large compound eyes. They are darker than the soldiers and workers. They have an outer covering that is also thicker than that of the workers and soldiers. They are also often bigger in size. Once fully grown, the winged reproductives (alates) will fly away on a colonising flight. This happens in the summer months. And only when the humidity and temperature outside matches the conditions inside the colony itself.
They are highly destructive and like to build their nests beneath man-made structures, in tree stumps and in root crowns. They prefer areas where the wood or timber is in direct contact with the soil. This is because it speeds up the decomposition process of wood and timber. This species is commonly found in New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The worker termites will eat cellulose. This is a naturally occurring substance found in wood and various wood products. Termites digest it with the assistance of their own by intestinal enzymes. They also eat fungi and other types of organic material.
This is a major pest species found along the eastern coast of Australia. If you come across swarming termites, it is a good indication that there is a large termite colony nearby. Subterranean termites cause more damage to homes in Australia than storms, tempests, floods and fires combined.
Schedorhinotermes Intermedius are a very damaging skittish species and care must be taken so as not to disturb them during treatment. Otherwise they will simply relocate elsewhere within the property.
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