How Do Termites See?

Are They Blind?

Unlike many pests, termites rely on other senses more than eyesight to interact with the world around them. In fact, termites use their eyes so little that some are even born without them. While termite kings, queens, and reproductives have small, weak eyes, workers and soldiers are entirely blind. Instead, termites depend on chemical signals called pheromones, environmental cues, and their sense of touch to identify food, other termites, and enemies.

Communicating through Chemicals

Worker termites are in charge of feeding the colony, a tough task without the ability to see trees or buildings. Instead, workers cooperate with each other by spreading out from the nest in all directions. When they locate a food source of wood, termites release chemicals from their abdomens. They then return to the colony, creating invisible chemical trails that other termites can sense, follow to the food sources, and trace back to the colony to share with other colony members.

Detecting Moisture & Decay

Many species of termites need to find areas of vegetation with plenty of moisture to survive. To get around their lack of vision, the pests have antennae covered with moisture-sensing receptors. While termites can't smell in the same way as humans, their antennae also help them notice odor particles. They can detect the scent of decaying wood and certain fungi from short distances.

Interpreting Vibrations

Since termites can't see predators, they use vibrations to warn each other of danger. Although they have no ears, the pests do have organs in their legs that help them sense movement. Soldier termites alert other colony members when they find intruders or dangerous pathogens by repeatedly bumping the colony tunnels with their heads.

How Does Termite "Vision" Affect Removal?

Since termites use their powerful senses to detect danger and food around them, treating homes to remove the pests can be tricky. For example, termite workers may be able to detect and avoid repellent chemical pesticides, so choosing the correct control methods and materials are keys to success. Call the local pest professionals at Orkin for fast, effective solutions to termite problems.

Resources

Dig Deeper on Termites

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