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Termites are small, white, tan, or black insects that can cause severe destruction to wooden structures. Termites belong to the insect order Isoptera, an ancient insect group that dates back more than 100 million years Termites become a problem when they consume structural lumber. Each year thousands of housing units in the United States require treatment for the control of termites. Termites may also damage utility poles and other wooden structures. These pests cause serious damage to wooden structures and posts and may also attack stored food, books, and household furniture.IDENTIFICATIONTermites are social and can form large nests or colonies. Physically the largest individual is the queen. Her function is to lay eggs, sometimes thousands in a single day. A king is always by her side. Other individuals have large heads with powerful jaws, or a bulblike head that squirts liquid. These individuals are called soldiers. But the largest group of termites in a colony is the workers. While other species of social insects have workers, termites are unique among insects in that workers can be male or female. Surprisingly, termites can be long-lived: queens and kings can live for decades while individual workers can survive for several years. Signs of termite infestation include swarming of winged forms in fall and spring and evidence of tunneling in wood.
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