Myth Or Fact: Do Termites Die Upon Exposure To Light?

January 7, 2021

Termites have established a reputation for being one of the most destructive pests. Once they have invaded a home, it will require a significant amount of effort to eradicate them, or the expert help of a pest control company.

Since termites are common pests, the internet is rife with DIY methods and suggestions on how to deal with them. One prominent suggestion: Termites die when they are exposed to sunlight or open air. If this is true, it might prove to be one of the most straightforward termite control strategies – so why do we still need pest control companies?

Here’s the truth of the matter:

Termites need water to survive

There might be a belief that termites can survive without water, especially in the case of drywood termites. However, this is not true. One fact that disproves this is that drywood termites have salivary reservoirs that are designed to store water. Termites require water to wet their food. They also need water to help break down the cellulose content of the wood.

Despite some termites belonging in the ‘drywood’ category, it does not mean that they can survive for a long time without water.

Sunlight dries out the moisture they need

When non-winged termites are exposed to sunlight, it will take only a few minutes before they die. The reason behind this is because such termites thrive only in damp environments where there is sufficient moisture. Exposure to sunlight tends to kill these termites because sunlight evaporates the little moisture available in their environment. When the moisture evaporates, the termites not only become dehydrated, but they also lack the material they crucially need to break down and digest their food.

This explains why termites tend to stay away from direct sunlight. Upon exposure to sunlight, they tend to search for cover and work together to build a blockade so that light doesn’t reach them anymore. If this is unsuccessful, they will not be able to live.

Why are some termites attracted to sunlight?

However, not all termites are afraid of the light. In fact, at some in their lives, termites are attracted to light! Flying termites, just like moths, have evolved to use light to aid their movement. For these flying termites, light is a signal that they should leave their colonies and breed with each other. These termites have eyes, and the eyes help them locate light since new colonies and new mates are usually found where there is light.

This is one significant difference between wingless termite workers and winged swarmer termites. The dry wood termites don’t have compound eyes, and thus, they communicate with each other through pheromones.

Can you use sunlight to eradicate termites?

While it seems to be a logical idea, it is not a practical solution. It is not easy to expose termites to sunlight. They are usually too quick to escape, and trying to expose termites to sunlight might mean that you will have to destroy a huge chunk of material, whether it is your lawn or a part of your wall, to get the sunlight directly into the termite colony.

How do you effectively eradicate termites?

Termite control is a daunting task that might require the involvement of experts in pest management. Such eradication attempts require an expert approach because it only takes two termites to restart and build another colony from scratch. Hence, it is advisable to do it with the assistance of seasoned professionals without risking another infestation.

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