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Termite Foraging and Feeding Habits


Subterranean termites are unlikely to build nests within the structure, but can travel long distances to find food away from the nest. For most of the United States, termites can be brought to a standstill by the extreme cold of winter or extremely dry, arid climates. Termites become most active during the warmer temperatures, especially following a rainy season.  An increase in rainfall with warm temperatures causes increased humidity and high moisture content in the soil. These conditions are optimal for termites, and can promote rapid colony development and damage to the structure.  Subterranean termites do not like to eat all types of wood however when determining the likelihood or probability of termite infestation the condition of the wood is more important than the type of wood. Decaying wood is able to be digested faster than healthy wood, due to the fact that partially decayed wood already broken down to a certain point it makes the job of the termites digestive system much easier.  
Subterranean termites feed on wood at roughly the same amount as other termite species, but fluctuations in certain factors of the colony will alter how much is consumed during different points of time.  Larger insects, as well as a larger number of termites in the colony will cause the colony to consume more food in proportion to relative size.  If a colony is located in a prime/optimal spot for a long time and is undisturbed the amount of wood consumed will also increase drastically over time. Subterranean termites share their food through a process known as trophallaxis.  Trophallaxis is an important process because important members of the termite colony are unable to feed themselves and must rely on other termites within the caste system to provide a steady stream of food.  This regurgitative process is how how termites distribute and exchange nutrients and also how termites transfer digestive protozoa between colony members.

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