By Dr. Stuart Mitchell
Taxonomically (“method of arrangement”), termites are now of the Infraorder Blattodea (cockroaches). An Infraorder is a taxonomic category in biological classification ranking above a Superfamily and below a Suborder (higher than a Family). Isoptera (“equal wings”) are a group of eusocial (socially organized) insects. Isopterology is the study of termites. As Isopterologists, pest management professionals studiously disrupt and mitigate termite colonies and potential damage.
"The extraordinary greatness of the Roman Empire manifests itself above all in three things: the aqueducts, the paved roads, and the construction of the drains." -Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Greek historian and teacher (flourished circa 20 BC)
Like the Roman Empire, much of the ecological (relationship and interactions between organisms and their environment) greatness of termites is directly interconnected to their extraordinary abilities of construction and asessility (movement). Biologically, such abilities are influenced via mechanoreceptors.
Mechanoreceptors sense body position and mechanical energy within the environment (muscle generated internal forces, gravity, pressure, and vibration). Superbly functioning as a dais, the exoskeleton detects stimuli and transfers these to sensory receptors.
Insects have two types of mechanoreceptor cells.
- Type I: cells that are ciliated (“eyelash-like”), bipolar neurons (two processes arising from opposite poles of the cell body).
- Type II: cells that are nonciliated multipolar neurons (a single long axon with many dendrites allowing multi-neuronal information flow).
Type I mechanoreceptors are connected to the interior or exterior cuticle surface. Type II mechanoreceptors are connected with muscle or connective tissue.
Mechanoreceptors consist of the following.
- Proprioceptors: perceive the body position in time and space.
- Tactile receptors: exteroceptors (detect outside the body) that perceive the existence of touch, pressure, and vibration.
Worker termites generally lack eyes and therefore depend upon mechanoreceptors as well as other highly evolved anatomic and physiologic influencers to read sensory cues. This allows dutiful performance of complex labors (brood and nest preservation, food storage, and foraging).
Via components of soil or masticated wood adhered together with saliva and fecal matter (accumulated during nest construction), Subterranean termites construct discrete and concentrated termitariums. Diffused with many chambers and galleries, some termitariums ascend moderately above the ground as mounds while others are totally underground or arboreal.
Significantly pestiferous, reliant upon sustainable contact with soil moisture, and constructing earthen-networking shelter tubes, subterranean termites behaviorally infest structural wood components through numerous exploitable architectural features.
- Query every crack and crevice.
- Delve into all delayed maintenance.
- Critique every conducive condition.
- Scrutinize the entire structure.
Isopterologists never underestimate the terrestrial tenacity of termites. Limit your options, and you allow termites unlimited infestation opportunity.