A variety of domestic objects can catch termites’ eyes. The ink in widely utilized ballpoint pens is one of the more perplexing objects on which certain termites focus attention. Termites pursue the ink developed by pen brands such as Bic, Papermate, and more due to the smell of the ink that emits a particular trail marker pheromone.
If you use one of these pens to put a line along a ground, you may encounter a line of termites attempting to follow it like it is some sort of guide. Almost every termite is deaf and blind. Therefore, termites utilize pheromones to interact. Chemical signals, pheromones help in communicating messages.
Termites naturally produce these signaling agents on their bodies from different glands and sense pheromones on their antennas utilizing chemoreceptors. Termites generate various pheromones for various uses. They generate it to identify places with food sources, find partners, determine which termites are members of their colony and which aren’t, inform other members of the colony about potential threats, and lead scavenging actions.
Why Do Termites Follow Ink?
There are not many—if any—homeowners out there who would want to deal with a termite infestation in their home. As they’re so notorious for destroying residences, most people know about termites. However, only a few have a good understanding of their anatomy.
After spending years studying the movement of termites, researchers found very strange behavior in termites—they have are attracted to ink found in pens. They follow it like a guide to wherever it leads them to.
So, what is the reason for termites to follow ink? A glycohol compound is present in the ink of the pens we use. This compound attracts termites by mimicking a chemical produced by termites themselves. That chemical is diethylene glycol monoethylether.
Because a large percentage of termites in a given colony are blind, with the exception of the royalty i.e. the queen and the king, the termites need other identification methods. It is extremely crucial for termites to recognize fellow members of their colony rather than their enemies because they are social beings and can only stay alive by working with their own kind.
Termites can detect their own existence by detecting the pheromones which other termites emit. They generally utilize their sense of smell for almost everything, including following the path leading to their habitats. The inclination of termites towards these pheromones is quite understandable.
What does not make too much sense, though, is the instinct of termites to pursue ink trails seen by many humans. This is what propelled research scientists to study termites to find out why they are attracted to ink and follow it. Their findings are detailed next.
What Researchers Found About the Inclination of Termites towards Ink
Researchers are intrigued by the attachment of a termite to ink. Therefore, they wanted to find out why termites like ink so much. They succeeded in isolating a volatile chemical that is used as a pen ink element. The name given to this chemical is 2-phenoxyethanol. It’s the compound that most probably encourages termites to follow pen ink, according to researchers.
It has been observed that, except for ballpoint pens, termites are not drawn to any other form of a pen. Additionally, they have a special preference for two brands of pens that have been mentioned earlier. Moreover, blue ink is the only type of ink in which you will find the chemical 2-phenoxyethanol.
Scientists claim this could be due to evolutionary changes preventing them from pursuing black or red paths. However, they aren’t yet sure as to why a termite prefers blue trails and not other colors. The inclination shown by termites towards pheromones emitted from blue ink can be observed by utilizing a blue ballpoint pen and a piece of paper near termites. Doing this will help you to understand the behavior of termites better which in turn will increase your chances of exterminating termites from your home.
What is the Primary Motive of Termites to Follow Ink?
Insects are guided by sensations and impulses. When it comes to termites, they have limited senses. You would be amazed to know that termites cannot at all see, and they cannot hear either. To move about, they rely primarily on their sense of smell.
As we already know, termites produce pheromones for contact and navigation. Other termites may sense the scent of the pheromone in their antennae’s chemoreceptors. A variety of pheromones are utilized for different reasons, such as seeking a partner.
They can also spread pheromones to build trails. In the absence of these pheromones, working termites that are deaf and blind will probably never be able to get home. Additionally, the pheromones inform termites of the way to return from their habitat to a source of food. Few inks have a chemical that imitates the pheromone used to label pathways.
However, termites are not attracted by just about any ink. Instead, they have a special inclination towards the ink of two particular ballpoints: Papermate and Bic. Scientists have found that termites are not drawn to red or black ink after having conducted several experiments. Additionally, they are not attracted to ink from other forms of pen such as a rollerball pen or felt pen.
Researches now feel that the substance imitating the pheromone that termites want to pursue is present in blue ink as a compound called 2-Phenoxyethanol. Despite this, building an ink trail isn’t a feasible way to eliminate termites from your home.
Pest control specialists can, however, benefit from their trail marking behaviors. A bait structure can be utilized to attract termites and then the termites will build a trail that brings their pals to the bait.
If you want to get rid of termites quickly before they cause any major harm, then the ink trick may give you temporary pleasure, but it won’t get rid of the infestation of termites in your home that can cause serious damage. Therefore, it is important that you do not experiment around yourself to eliminate the infestation in your home. Instead, you should turn to the professionals who have many years of experience in exterminating termites from homes, offices, and other places where termites can build their colonies and cause damage.
Understanding the Pheromone That Termites Produce to Invite Other Termites
The reason termites follow ink is evident in the process that termites use to interact amongst themselves. When a termite discovers anything worth exploring, it sets a pheromone trail that the other termites can detect and track with unfaltering precision.
This pheromone has a chemical structure identical to a myriad of distinct chemicals in households, and several ballpoint ink types imitate its attributes well enough to deceive the insect. Not all forms of ink will do the trick. However, if you locate one with the correct chemical scent, you can lead termites on a while chase or force them to go around in circles.
In this article, we discussed the reason termites follow ink. This included the basic tendency of termites that makes them follow ink, what researchers found about the inclination of termites towards ink in ballpoints, the primary motive of termites to follow ink, and the pheromone that termites produce to invite other termites to a food source or another object of their interest.
One of the key findings in this article was that termites are attracted to the ink in ballpoints because it contains an ingredient that mimics the chemical produced by termites themselves. This chemical is used by termite to not only interact with other termites but also to become aware of their own existence.
In the end, knowing what makes termites attracted to ink can help you eliminate the terminate infestation in your home. Even if you don’t fancy dealing with the termite infestation yourself, you can use an ink trap to get all the termites in your home in one place which will make it easier for the pest control specialists to eliminate the termites in your home.
How Long Does the Pheromone Last?
Pheromone is a chemical that cannot be detected by humans. Since they are deaf and blind, termites depend on this fragrance for communication. If we talk about the duration for which the smell of the pheromone lasts, then this scent lasts for no more than fifteen minutes. It is around the same time it takes for a termite to navigate an ink line until it strolls off. However, the duration for which solider termites follow the ink trail is longer than the duration for the same worker termites.