If termites invade your home, they might look less like individual termites and more like a masticating, moving mass, with wishes to chomp through everything you hold dear. But in truth, not all termites are created equal. Much like humans, termites have their own social hierarchy that helps them thrive in their given ecosystem. Here’s a look at the three main classes of termites.

Workers/Builders

Workers are the smallest, most populous, and youngest of the termites in a colony, but they do a majority of the work. They’re the architects and repairmen of the colony, constructing elaborate tunnels, moving large amounts of dirt, repairing damaged or blocked tunnels, and in some cases, locating food for the termite colony. Workers in mound-building colonies can move up to a quarter-ton of dirt—which is about half the weight of a grand piano—to build their mounds. These mounds can be as short as 15 feet tall, with some mounds in Africa extending 30 feet above the ground. But don’t forget about what lies beneath; Some workers will build underground tunnels beneath the mound. Some of these tunnels dive as much as 250 feet beneath ground level.

Soldiers

Termites are known to be eaters, but like most organisms, they’re bound to be eaten. Anteaters, aardvarks, mongoose, bats, shrews, lizards, and some primates enjoy a tasty termite (or a few hundred) every now and then, which can put a termite colony at risk. That’s where termite “Soldier” class comes in. These termites have larger heads, mandibles, and pincers than other termite classes, which they use to bite incoming predators to scare them away from the mound. Some types of soldier termites also possess body sacks filled with poisonous, blue liquid with the power to kill predators. Once the predators gets close to the mound, the soldier termites will spray their sacks of poison at the predator. It’s a suicidal act, but it fulfills the true purpose of the soldier termite: To protect and defend the termite realm.

Reproducers (Termite Royalty)

Reproducers are the largest and most important social class of termites, as they’re in charge of creating new generations of termites in the mound. Each termite colony has at least one king and queen. While the king’s job in the colony is less researched and understood, the queen termite is in charge of birthing the new generation of termites—sometimes at a rate of 30 eggs per second.

Queen termites usually start out as independent, winged beings who fly around looking for king termites in previously established colonies. Once the queen finds a mate, her wings are shed, and her lifelong duty to reproduce in the termite colony begins.

At Hi-Tech Termite Control, we destroy termites at the source, no matter their social class. We offer alternative termite spot treatments using microwave technology, and fumigation services for those with larger termite problems in the Los Angeles and San Diego area. Contact us for a free inspection, and make sure worker, builder, and reproducer termites aren’t invading your home!