Termites traversing oceans for so long and we are just finding out
Drywood termites traversing oceans has been so for millions of years. They have hitchhiked with humans and built mud tubes to reach distant islands. The creatures are common in Fiji, but why have they made this journey? Why are they now one of the most feared pest species? Read on to find out! Here are some fascinating facts about termites. Let’s begin.
Before we talk about the importance of termite control in Fiji, let’s take a look at the evolutionary history of this pest species.
Drywood termites have traveled across the ocean for millions of years
Researchers analyzed the DNA from samples of drywood termites collected over the past 30 years to discover their genetic makeup. Drywood termites are considered to be a distinct subfamily of the Kalotermitidae, and they are represented by 120 species, representing nearly every major genera. Their detailed analysis of drywood termite DNA yielded a tree of their family history, which reveals that the earliest common ancestor lived 84 million years ago.
Early splits in the household tree could have occurred over land before the supercontinent Gondwana broke up.
Unlike other termite families, drywoods have traveled across oceans more than any other group of insects. This ability to travel long distances has helped drywood termites to spread and evolve into new species in remote regions. In the past 50 million years, these termites have made at least 40 oceanic journeys. They originated in South America and migrated to Africa, where they have evolved into different species. Their recent dispersal was made easier by human influence.
They build mud tubes
Termites have been building mud tubes for millions of years. They build these tubes by mixing soil, wood cellulose, and particulate matter together. They then plaster this mixture onto the surface. As they build, they keep adding to the tube until it is complete. This process has helped them explore different environments and survive in those conditions. Termites use these tubes as a way to navigate between locations.
Subterranean termites build mud tubes so that they can get water from underground. Their tunnels are about a quarter of an inch wide and up to an inch long. These tubes are made of dirt, saliva, and their own waste. In addition to being earth-colored, they are also drier than the other two types of tubes. Depending on their species, mud tubes can be a quarter-inch to one-inch in diameter.
The process of building mud tubes has evolved over many millions of years. This process allows these creatures to reach food sources that are difficult to access otherwise. For example, if you notice mud tubes on the ceiling or upper levels of a building, you likely have an above-ground infestation. Because termites live in moist environments, they can also hide on exterior surfaces like concrete or wood components. Because termites eat along the grain of the wood, their damage will appear as a hollow sound when you tap the wood.
They are a common pest species in Fiji
The Asian subterranean termite has been considered the second most destructive termite species in the world. It has already caused extensive damage in various parts of the world. It most likely arrived in Fiji 15 years ago via shipping vessels. These ships often transport goods on wooden pallets. The termites were spotted using advanced bio-security techniques. In Fiji, they are apparently no longer a serious threat to the local population.
The size of the termite colonies varies widely, ranging from two to hundreds of thousands. These colonies are composed of different castes, each containing different morphological characteristics. Several types of swarm occur at different times of the year. The most common time of the year to see termite swarms is late afternoon and the day after soaking rain. Heterotermes aureus flies at dusk in July and August.
Reproductive termites are black and yellow in color. They have two pairs of wings but shed these after a swarming flight. The queen is the largest in terms of physical size and will lay thousands of eggs. The queen will always be accompanied by a male reproductive termite and a female reproductive termite. However, queens and kings can also be replaced by other individuals.
They evolved from a primitive species
Termites diverged from other cockroaches about 150 million years ago and developed social behavior. They form large colonies with millions of members, most of which live in tunnels in soil. Smaller colonies of fewer than 5,000 individuals form in wood. Regardless of the source of wood, termites have evolved from a primitive species that traversed the ocean for millions of years.
Termites are a group of insects that live in colonies, ruled by a queen, divided into castes of drones, workers, and soldiers. These creatures hunt for food, build labyrinthine nests, and defend their colonies from invading species. Scientists have divided the insect world into two orders, Isoptera and Hymenoptera.
The history of termites is a fascinating one. They have survived the rigors of the ocean, and have adapted over millions of years to adapt to a variety of environments. During this time, they’ve become one of the most diverse animals on Earth. Today, the termite population is the most widely distributed, with a presence in nearly every country in the world.
They are a flying insect
Drywood termites have mastered crossing the ocean. These flying insects, from the Kalotermitidae family, have crossed the ocean 40 times over the last 50 million years. Though they are poor fliers, termites have used other means of transport to travel vast distances. Ales Bucek, an evolutionary geneticist at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, said the termite’s ability to traverse the ocean may have had something to do with their long life span.
Termites, like most flying insects, go through a complete metamorphosis. Initially, they nest in small groups on a single piece of wood. Later, they evolved into large colonies. They can also migrate hundreds of miles from their original nests. Some species even develop wings. Once they get established, a colony may have several hundred workers. The colony of these flying insects may have as many as twenty-two neotenic queens.
They are a member of the Kalotermitidae family
The study was conducted using DNA sequences from 120 species of drywood termites that were collected from around the world. These samples represented over one-fourth of the entire family, the Kalotermitidae. Researchers sequenced the DNA from the termites’ mitochondrial COII and ITS2 genes. Their findings point to the evolutionary history of this insect family.
The male reproductive organs of Kalotermitidae termite colonies are larger than those of other species. The termite army consists of four to five million soldiers, which are smaller than the female reproductive organs. Soldiers are tiny compared to the female reproductive organs, which require four years to produce one egg. Termites also live in drywood and neotropical environments. Their colonies contain a primary king and queen.
The study of the Kalotermitidae termite family’s evolutionary history helped scientists understand how they evolved. In the past, these termites lived in small groups on a single piece of wood. Later, they split into larger colonies. The researchers studied their genetics and determined that the species had the capacity to travel great distances. One of the most amazing findings was the finding that the termites migrated over 50 million miles.
They are responsible for destroying savanna ecosystems
A new study has revealed the role that termites have played in destroying savanna ecosystems. Researchers found that termites are responsible for destroying savanna ecosystems because they consume woody vegetation. The researchers say that these insects may be responsible for the widespread deforestation of Africa’s forests.
In central Kenya, termite mounds are found near water bodies. The structure of termite mounds promotes local activity while maximizing ecosystem-wide productivity. The results of this research were published in the journal PLoS Biology. Termites are true ecosystem engineers whose work is largely ignored by scientists due to the scarcity of data sets that reveal the extent of termite activity.
The extinction of termites is a result of the climate change that has changed global climatic conditions. Lower ocean temperatures decreased water evaporation, slowing down the whole hydrologic cycle. The long-term climatic change also affected midlatitude regions, which lie between wet equatorial areas and moist cool temperate zones.
The lack of land between these contrasting regions meant that plant and animal migration was impeded along with termites traversing oceans, and new species adapted to the changing climates and conditions.
Provided by Antonio Westley
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.