In keeping with the University of Rochester's proposed invitation of arthropods to its main library, this week's featured homewrecker is the termite. The Florida Agricultural Information Retrieval System at http://hammock.ifas.ufl.edu was very helpful in assembling the following information. There are actually two types of termites, subterranean and nonsubterranean termites. Both rely on protozoa in their guts to digest the cellulose in wood, and both infest the woodwork of homes. They have three castes; kings, queens, and soldiers. Work is performed by immature termites. Drywood (non-subterranean) termites remain hidden in the wood they infest, eating across the grain and consuming both hard and soft wood. At advanced stages of infestation, surface "blisters" appear. They may be detected by banging the handle of a screwdriver against wood; a hollow, rustling sound indicates the presence of termites. They swarm at various times of the year, when kings and queens leave to form new colonies. In minor infestations, the affected wood may be removed and replaced with treated wood. In more extensive cases, the affected building must be tented and fumigated with methyl bromide or sulfuryl fluoride (Vikane).

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