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Termites are considered to be the most destructive insect pests in the world. Many buildings and structures are damaged by these pests each year resulting in huge financial losses.
There are 200 different species of termites in Malaysia, but only a handful cause problems to properties:
About 90% of property damages in Malaysia are caused by Coptotermes species making it the “public enemy number 1” in Malaysia.
Family: Rhinotermitidae (subfamily Coptotermitidae)
Castes: Queen, king, soldier, worker, reproductive.
Nest type & Behaviour: Coptotermes build nest in the soil because they are very dependent on it for moisture. In their search for food, subterranean termites construct mud tubes because they are susceptible to desiccation when exposed to air. They usually work their way above ground to reach wood or any other cellulose source. The cellulose is then broken down into simple starch with the help of the protozoans in the termites gut.
Economic significance: Termites are considered to be amongst the most destructive pest in the world. It is estimated that the annual damages caused to buildings and structures in Malaysia amounted to RM40 million annually.
The basic castes in a colony are queens, kings, workers, soldiers and alates.
Alates are the winged reproductives that swarm out from the nest and establish new colonies. Male and females pair off and look for a suitable environment to mate. They are often confused with ant swarmers.