Termites are a natural part of the environment. They serve as beneficial feeders of cellulose (a substance we use in news print), aiding in the decomposition of leaves and wood, which are continuously recycled in nature.
It is when termites invade human structures that their role changes from beneficial to destructive.
We also know there are many species of termites, some 2200, and 70 of these species invade human structures. A very important species consists of termites which live in colonies underground and commute to infest wood and other cellulose on or above the ground surface. The subterranean termites exhibit a high degree of social behavior which can be seen in their colony structure, much like the honey bee or ants.
By the end of the first year the colony may consist of a dozen or so workers and the king and queen. In the winter the colony moves deeper below the soil freeze line and their activity is minimized. The chemical messages sent from the king and queen during the first year or so of the colony allow for the production of worker termites only. The second year soldiers begin to appear.
The subterranean termite workers spend most of their time tunneling in the soil seeking wood. They will build tunnels of soil to bridge open space between the colony and a food source. These tunnels also provide insulation from extreme heat and cold. They gather food as well as build tunnels and are the groomers in the colony.