Caring for Your Termitat®
With this easy to care for termite habitat, these masters of social organization will give you years of enjoyable learning, wonder and entertainment. These are live animals living in a closed environment and they will need your occasional attention as with any other treasured pet.
1.) Upon Receiving Your Termitat:
Check for a healthy and lively colony. You might notice a few dead individual termites. This is not uncommon after the bumpy ride. They will quickly be dealt with by the colony. There might be some normal debris under the wood disk as the colony commonly tosses excess materials outside. IMPORTANT NOTE: If all the termites arrive expired, you must contact us by email within 1 hour of the delivery time (as indicated by USPS tracking information) and include photos of the packaging and the termites. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Soldiers: Termitats are set up using a small group of worker termites and often a soldier if one is available in the original larger supply colony. A new colony in the wild will only begin to produce soldiers after they achieve sufficient numbers to be able to feed extra mouths. Soldiers are dependent on workers for their food; they are unable to obtain their own cellulose meals due to their jaws being suitable solely for defense of the colony. Even in a mature wild colony, there will only be about 5 soldiers for every 100 workers. In a small starter Termitat colony that has a soldier included, it is common for the colony to consume the soldier and therefore save the colony’s energy. Soldier production will be deferred to a later date. The colony will consume the protein packed body of the soldier (nothing is wasted!) and place the inedible jaws and head in an area used for the colony’s debris. If this is the case with your colony, be patient, as a new soldier will appear in due time as your colony builds up its numbers.
Winged Workers: Occasionally winged termites will appear when younger workers molt into these winged potential reproductives. Since they cannot leave the Termitat and fly off to establish new colonies, they will be reabsorbed into the colony, and reproduction will be handled by supplementary reproductives recruited from the mature nymphs.
2.) Basic Watering Guidelines
The forest floor dwelling species of termite in your Termitat requires some damp wood and high humidity. It is simple to maintain the proper amount of damp wood in the Termitat. Be sure to make a habit of checking the wood disk at least twice a week to observe whether a small area approximately 1.5″ x 1.5″ near where the termites are located is visibly darker and damper than the surrounding wood. Add just enough water to keep this small area damp and do not worry about making the entire wood disk damp. Avoid adding water to areas of the wood that the colony does not have access to. Without access to an area, the termites will not be able to control fungus that can occur on this inaccessible damp wood.
STEP 1: Add water in small amounts. If the area of the colony’s gallery is a little darker/damper than the surrounding dry wood in the disk (you might even see a small patch of some good condensation on the inside of the clear acrylic), hold off on adding more water. Adding too much water is the main source of problems in maintaining a healthy environment for the colony. If water is needed, fill the syringe from halfway to full with spring water or distilled water. Avoid using tap water or de-ionized water. Non-chlorinated bottled drinking water is fine.
STEP 2: To add the water, remove the cleaning wire by pulling on the small knob at the top, revealing the recess where the syringe tip will go. Try not to lose this wire tool. The recessed hole at the top of the Termitat accepts the perforated black rubber nozzle tip of the syringe. Keep the rubber tip permanently on the syringe. See photo. Pick up the Termitat and hold it above a surface that can handle any water drops. Tilt the front face back until it is horizontal and face up. This will allow you to tilt and distribute the water as it is added with the syringe. Alternately, you can hold the case above your head with the front face down if this keeps the water in the front galleries better for you.
Press the black rubber tip into the recess at the top of the Termitat for a good seal. If the hole is blocked, insert the wire tool to clear the hole.
Slowly depress the plunger and allow the water to enter into the area where the termites are located. Slowly tip and tilt the case in different directions to distribute the water evenly so it circulates and wets the exposed wood gallery surfaces where the termites are located. Avoid inundating galleries that have become storage areas for debris and areas that might have some visible fungus. Monitor where the water is going as you press down on the syringe plunger.
STEP 3: When you have added enough water to dampen just the wood the termites can access, stop and lay the case face up on a table. Let the water soak into the horizontal wood for a few minutes before you set the case upright. Do not try to keep the entire wood disk damp. Follow the progress of the colony and just keep a small central area of the chambers and tunnels slightly damp. Over time, as the colony detects air leaks and seals them for control of air movement and CO2 levels, less water will be needed to maintain some damp wood and high humidity.
STEP 4: When adding water, try not to allow it to spread to areas the colony can’t get to. If you notice the start of branching fungal growth on the surface of the wood, cut back on the water and give the colony a chance to get any fungus under control. The termites will eventually tunnel over to it. Termite fecal pellets have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, and these will help control fungus growth.
4.) Temperature Limits
These termites do best at temperatures that we humans also find comfortable. A cool, low light spot on a desk or shelf is a good location choice. The thermometer strip on the side of the Termitat is graduated in degrees Centigrade . Keeping them between 20ºC to 24ºC is ideal. In degrees Fahrenheit these temperatures are equivalent to 68ºF to 75ºF. Try not to keep them for any length of time at temperatures much above and below this range. The centigrade reading on the strip that is brightest is the current reading. Putting the Termitat near an extreme heat source like a house heating register or radiator or leaving it in direct sunlight will quickly produce dangerous temperatures.
5.) Set up for the Optional USB Microscope
a.) For Macs: Assemble the microscope and turn on the Photo Booth software built into the computer. Then insert the microscope’s USB plug into the computer. In the menu bar click on “Camera” and choose “Andonstar Camera”. The Photo Booth software can take a single still image, four stills to a page, and a video. It can then export it in an email or save it to iPhoto. Optionally, go to: https://www.elektor.com/andonstar-a1-usb-digital-microscope and download Mac driver software.
b.) For PCs: Download: https://www.elektor.com/andonstar-a1-usb-digital-microscope
To maximize your new powerful magnifying tool, try these helpful tips.
You can first use the scope with the Termitat case on its feet and in the vertical position on a table top. Hook up the scope using the USB cable to your computer. Bring the front of the scope approximately 1-1/2″ away from the acrylic face of the case. Angle the scope body to the front of the case off from perpendicular to avoid picking up the glare of the LED lights. Focus using the knurled ring on the scope body. Quick focusing can also be done by moving the scope on its base closer or farther away from the acrylic.
Here is a good set up to search across the front wood surface without having to focus or bend the scope on its flexible neck. First set the case down horizontal on a 1-3/4” high stack of square PostIt pads (for instance) to make the surface of the acrylic parallel to the table. Place the stack under the middle of the wood disc. Adjust the scope on its neck to reach in and focus carefully on a termite near the center of the wood disk. You can now slide the microscope with its base and reach every area without having to bend the flexible neck and readjust the focus. The microscope base will slide underneath the case as you explore the wood disk face.
If for any reason you wish to humanely dispose of your colony, freezing in the case is the best method. See the included and required USDA disposal instruction sheet.
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