termite-hill-266587_1280Dr. J. Scott Turner, professor of animal physiology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y., has been studying termites, seeking to answer a question that has baffled scientists for centuries: How do they build such impressive nests? To find out, Turner and his colleagues have tried a variety of testing techniques, from filling nests with propane, to scanning them with lasers to filling them with plaster to create molds. Learning about the latest advances in understanding termites by researchers like Turner is how the Orlando pest control experts at Apex Pest Control stay ahead of the competition.

Turner hasn’t solved the mystery of how termites construct their nests, but he has begun to collect some ideas about how they work together, some of which may surprise those outside of the business.

  • Termites appear to act as a collective, sort of like the way neurons behave in the human brain, thus it might be the collective that makes decisions about nest building rather than individuals. Turner says a nest can be thought of as a super organism similar to other social species in the insect world, such as ants and bees.
  • Termites aren’t the only members of the collective, their nests are also chock full of fungus, which the termites feed with their feces—some evidence suggests the fungus might be adding to the total “brain power” of the nest.
  • Termites can form into groups of one to two million insects, building mounds that can reach up to 17 feet high—the total weight of the insects inside a single nest can climb to more than 40 pounds, and together they can move over 500 pounds of soil as they make their nest along with several tons of water.
  • A single large nest full of termites can eat as much grass in a year as an 880-pound cow—their feces serve as both building material and food for the fungus.
  • When damage is done to a nest, the entire collective seems to know what has happened and what their role should be in fixing things, including forming bucket brigades of mud, gathering it outside and then passing it from one to another in their mouths to the point where it is needed.

The abilities of the termites are so great, that Turner has designed entire computer simulations dedicated to better understand their behavior. He believes this information may also assist in the development of robots and artificial intelligence.

Termites are a very complex insect, and it’s the Orlando pest control experts  responsibility at Apex Pest Control to know how to prevent them from causing damage to human “nests.” If you have any questions about termites or concerns about them on your property, please don’t hesitate to call us—with termites, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.