How Do Termites Use Pheromones?

Photo Credit: Matt Bertone, NC State University

It’s all about communication. We use words, actions and body language to communicate with other people. But with animals and pests, it’s not as simple. Termites are no exception.

For the first time, researchers have identified how termites communicate their “royal” status with other termites. The study, that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, writes that termite kings and queens produce a chemical of carbon and hydrogen atoms (heneicosane) on the surface of their bodies.

Since termites are blind and work mostly underground, it’s no surprise they have a unique way of communicating. This pheromone lets the workers know when royalty is in the room.

But don’t get confused. The king and queen are royalty but that doesn’t mean the worker termites bow and curtsy. Researchers of this study said the termites shake when they realize the king and queen are near.

There is no doubt that most of us despise termites – they cause millions of dollars in damage to homes each year – but you have to admit that their way of communicating is pretty cool!