Termites ‘see’ & navigate through their colonies in unique, effective way
But to get the best answer to the question, you have to understand the different types of termites.
Worker and soldier termites are in fact blind, as they are born without a pair of eyes. Being that they spend their lives deep in the center of the colony, it makes sense as to why they never developed eyes used for vision.
These workers and soldiers make up the majority of the colony, making it incredible that these eyeless insects are able to organize and communicate effectively in such large numbers.
The only termites that have eyes used for sight are the reproductive swarmers, as well as the king and queen termites, who begin their lives as swarmers. These reproductives have small, weak, compound eyes that are used for orientation, as well as for distinguishing sunlight from moonlight. Swarmers use these compound eyes in order to search for potential new colony locations.
How Do Termites See?
Although the majority of termites are completely blind, they still have methods of ‘seeing’ and maneuvering throughout the colony.
While they do not technically see like humans do, termites use a combination of other senses to move throughout the colony and relay messages to one another. Relying mostly on their sense of smell, termites leave behind a trail of chemical pheromones in order to organize and communicate. Using their antennae to pick up on the pheromone trails, termites are able to understand a variety of social responses to the particular pheromone trail.
In addition to their use of smell, termites also use a sense of vibrations throughout the colony. Acting as an alarm system, termites warn others when the colony is in danger by pounding their heads against the walls of the colony. These signals trigger the soldiers to act as defense against invaders, or as a mass-evacuation signal to leave the endangered part of the colony.
So, while termites might not really ‘see’ like most other species, they are extremely capable of navigating their colonies and communicating with one another more than efficiently.
Getting Rid of Termites
When it comes to the removal of these destructive insects, it’s important to keep in mind their heightened sense of smell. Able to detect chemical pesticides and other methods used for removal, termites might be able to avoid sprays or baits used to eliminate the colony. To effectively and responsibly remove termites the first time, we recommend calling the local pest professionals at Catseye to save yourself a lot of time and stress.