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Click below to open terminology definitions.


A - Abdomen, Acute, Adult, Alate...

Abdomen:  The rearmost of the three main body parts.

Acute:  Sharp or pointy.

Adult:  Usually the last or most mature stage of an insect.

Alate:  Winged; having wings.

Allergic reaction:  Hypersensitive response of the immune system to a substance.

Antenna:  Pair of segmented appendages located on the head and usually sensory in function.

Anxiety:  A feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress.

Appendage:  Any limb or organ, such as an antenna, which is attached to the body by a joint.

Aquatic:  Growing, living in, or frequenting water.

Arboreal:  Tree dweller.

B - Bait, Basal Suture, Bed Bug, Bifid...

Bait:  An artificially added food source intended to be consumed as food. May or may not contain a toxin.

Basal Suture:  On a termite’s wing, this is the suture which breaks post-flight enabling the deciduous wing to be shed.

Bed Bug: A blood-sucking bug in the Cimex family that lives hidden in bedding or furniture, coming out at night to bite their victims.

Bifid:  Divided into two parts or lobes; double.

Bifurcate:  Forked, partly divided into two parts or lobes.

Bivouac:  A temporary encampment.

Body-Gripping trap:  A type of trap designed to kill the animal by collapsing the animal’s throat/thorax. Traps of this type include, Koro, Conibear, etc. Click for Photo.

Brood:  Newly hatched offspring of a bird.

C - Cage Trap, Cannibalism, Carivore...

Cage trap:  Frequently mislabeled as a “live trap”, the cage trap uses mesh (not solid walls) to imprison an animal. Click for photo.

Cannibalism:  Eating individuals of the same species. Termites cannibalize damaged or infirm colony members, presumably as a means of recycling nutrients.

Carnivore:  An animal belonging to the order Carnivora which includes predominantly meat eating mammals.

Carrion:  The bodies of dead animals usually found in nature in a decaying state.

Carton:  A construction material created by termites from partly chewed or partly digested woody tissue, salivary secretions and feces. Used to make nests, galleries and bivouacs.

Cast:  To regurgitate indigestible prey remains.

Caste:  A distinct form of termite, such as a soldier or worker.

Cell:  An area on the surface of a wing which is bound by a number of veins. A cell is closed if it is completely surrounded by veins and open if it is partly bound by the edge of the wing.

Cellulose:  A relatively inert polysaccharide (carbohydrate.) This is the polymer which stiffens the tissue of woody plants, and is the primary food source of termites. See also lignin.

Central nest: Typically applied to subterranean termites. This is the main location in the colony system where reproduction occurs, especially where there are also satellite nests and bivouacs.

Cephalic gland:  Another name for the frontal gland.

Cervix:  The membranous neck between head and prothorax.
Chimney cap:  A professionally manufactured device designed to keep rain and animals out of a chimney. Click for Chimney Cap Photo.

Clutch:  Total number of eggs laid by a female bird in one nest attempt.
Colony:  Name given to a group of mostly related termites that live and feed in a shared gallery system.
Colony trap:  A device designed to capture more than one animal at a time. Colony traps are used to capture muskrats, bats and flying squirrels. Colony traps used for mice are typically called “multi-catch traps.” Click for Photo of a mouse multi-catch trap.
Cross contamination:  Cross contamination occurs when bed bugs from one room are transferred to another, often by way of clothing or traveling.
Cryptic:  A behavior favoring concealment. Most termites are cryptic because of their tendency to remain within a gallery system.

D - Dealate, Dediduous, Depredation...

Dealate:  An alate which has become secondarily wingless after flight (see deciduous,) newly mated queen or king; a termite with wing scales but no wings.

Deciduous:  Able to be shed or discarded. Used to describe the wings of termites which are shed immediately after post-flight pairing.

Depredation:  The act of attacking or plundering.

Disease vector:  Vehicles by which infections are transmitted from one host to another. The most commonly known vectors include arthropods, domestic animals or mammals that assist in transmitting parasitic organisms to humans or other mammals.

Diurnal:  An animal that is most active during the day.

Dorsal:  Relating to, or of the upper surface or back. Opposite of ventral.

E - Ecdysis, Ecosystem, Ectoparasite...

Ecdysis:  Process of shedding the exoskeleton which occurs immediately before the new skin matures.

Ecosystem:  Community of organisms and their physical environment interacting as a unit.

Ectoparasite:  A parasite that lives and feeds on the outer surface of its host. See also endoparasite.

Endangered:  A species in danger of extinction.

Endemic:  Confined to a certain area or region.

Endoparasite:  A parasite that lives and feeds within its host. See also ectoparasite.

Entomologist:  A person who studies insects.

Entomology:  The study of insects.

Epidermis: The thin, cellular, outer body layer which, among other things, secretes the relatively thick cuticle.

Exclusion:  Activities and products used to prevent an animal from gaining access to or cause damage to areas and items deemed valuable by humans. For example, installing a stainless steel chimney cap on one’s chimney prevents raccoons from residing inside. Chimney Cap.

Exoskeleton:  Rigid external covering for the body.

Explanate:  Spread out and flattened.

Exuvia:  The cast-off outer skin of an insect or other arthropod.

F - Fecal, Feces, Feral, Field test...

Fecal:  Relating to the feces, the stool. The excrement discharged from the intestines.

Feces:  Solid waste product from an animal digestive tract.

Feral:  Domesticated animals that have gone wild (e.g. hogs, dogs, cats.)

Field test:  Term applied to any test of a system, process, product or chemical against termites living in a relatively wild or uncontrolled situation.

Fledge:  Act of leaving the nest or nest cavity after reaching a certain stage of maturity.

Flyway:  Fly routes established by migratory birds.

Food chain:  A sequence of feeding types, on successive levels within a community through which energy and biomass is transferred (e.g. plants are eaten by rodents that are eaten by snakes that are eaten by hawks.)

Foothold:  Term used by professionals to correct the more popular term for the trap “leghold.” The word foothold is a better one as it more accurately reflects where the trap should catch the animal. An animal’s foot is more padded and provides a better more human catching point than the leg. Foothold image.

Forage:  Vegetation taken naturally by herbivorous animal. The act of searching for and eating vegetative materials.

Forest game:  Game species that are managed by the DNR whose habitat needs are found mainly in forests.

Foraging:  To hunt or search for food.

Fossorial:  A burrowing mammal having limbs adapted for digging.

Frass:  Polite term for termite droppings.

Frightening device:  A technique or piece of equipment that exploits through non-chemical means the animal’s fear to cause it to leave. Frightening methods are categorized by their mode of action such as audible, visual, audio-visual, and biological.

Frontal gland:  A gland capable of producing defensive secretions present in the soldier caste of the families.

Furbearers:  Animals that have a thick coat of soft hair covering their bodies.

G - Gallery, Gradual metamorphosis...

Gallery:  A tunnel or void created by termites in soil or timber.

Gradual metamorphosis:  The growth process for termites starting as eggs and changing shape gradually with each moult.

Grooming:  Social behavior in which termites clean each other, typically removing excess dirt and fungal spores.

H - Habitat, Habitat conservation plan...

Habitat:  Place or environment where an animal (or plant) naturally or normally lives and raises young.

Habitat conservation plan:  A plan which outlines the impact of a listed species living within a project area, the steps taken to mitigate the project’s impacts and the funding that will be available to implement these measures, alternatives to the project and why they were not adopted, and any other measures that the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined to be necessary for the plan.

Harborge:  Shelter; refuge.

Harvest:  Proportion or number of a wildlife population brought to bag by hunters.

Hatch:  To emerge from an egg, pupa, or chrysalis.

Head:  The anterior body region of insects which bears the mouthparts, eyes, and antennae.

Head Lice:  Tiny insects that feed on blood from the human scalp.

Herbivore:  An animal that eats plants.

Herpetology:  Scientific study of reptiles and amphibians as a branch of Zoology.

Hexapod:  Animal with six legs.

Hibernation:  The act of passing all or part of winter in a dormant state where bodily functions are greatly slowed.

Hormone:  A chemical substance produced in the body and secreted directly into the blood which, when carried to another organ or tissue, produces a specific effect on a metabolic or developmental process.

I - I-Joint, Immature, Incubation...

I-Joint:  A flexible area that permits movement (articulation) of adjoining body parts.

Immature:  Not yet fully developed.

Incubation:  The act of rearing and hatching eggs by the warmth of the body.

Indigenous:  A naturally occurring species.

Insecticide:  A substance used to kill insects.

Insectivore:  A mammal or organism that feeds on insects.

Instar:  An insect that is in between moults. For example, a newly hatched termite is first instar but becomes a second instar after the first moulting.

Invasive Species:  A term to identify animals that exist in an area that was not part of their historic range except that their activity and presence causes negative environmental impact. For example, the Burmese python is an invasive species in the Florida everglades that is threatening native species.

Insecticide:  A chemical used specifically to kill or control the growth of insects.

Invertebrate:  An animal lacking a backbone. Comprises 95% of animal species.

K - King, Keystone species...

King:  A functional male in a termite colony.

Keystone species:  A species that other species depend upon for survival.

L - Labium, Labrum, Larva...

Labium:  The mouthparts, or appendage on the sixth head segment, forming a ‘lower lip’.

Labrum:  The ‘upper lip’ of the insect mouth-parts: not a true appendage, but a movable sclerite on the front of the head.

Larva:  Name given to a young insect which is markedly different from the adult: caterpillars and fly maggots are good examples.

Litter:  The number of young born with each birthing.

Live trap:  Cages or boxes that capture an animal without grasping any part of its body and without killing it.

M - Mandible, Mandubulate, Marsupial...

Mandible:  The jaw of an insect.

Mandibulate:  Having mandibles suited for biting and chewing.

Marsupial:  A mammal of the order Marsupialia that includes kangaroos, opossums, bandicoots and wombats. These females have pouches that contain mammary glands and that shelter the young until fully developed.

Mesothorax:  The 2nd segment of the thorax.

Metamorphosis.  Name given to the changes that take place during an insect’s life as it turns from a young animal to an adult.

Metathorax:  The 3rd and last segment of the thorax.

Migration:  The movement of animals to and from feeding or reproductive and nesting areas.

Molar:  Grinding surface of mandible.

Monoecious:  Having male and female sex organs in the same individual in plants or invertebrates.

Monogamous:  term used when one male breeds with one female.

Moult:  To shed the outer covering of the body – the exoskeleton.

Mouthparts:  Structures or appendages near the mouth, adapted for use in gathering or eating food.

N - Nest, Nesting, Niche, Nocturnal...

Nest:  That part of the gallery system housing the reproductives, eggs and young nymphs. May be a simple set of chambers excavated in food (such as in the drywood and dampwood termites) or may be a complex structure called a termitarium.

Nestling:  A young bird that has not left, or abandoned, the nest.

Niche:  Part of a habitat particularly suited to the requirements of a given species.

Nocturnal:  Active by night; the opposite of diurnal.

NWCO:  Pronounced “NewKo” and is an acronym which stands for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. A NWCO is a professional who handles wildlife damage complaints. See “WCO.”

NWCOA:  An acronym (pronounced, New-Koh-ah) for the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. To learn more visit

Nymph:  Name given to the young stages of insects which undergo partial metamorphosis. Usually similar to the adult except its wings are not fully developed. Normally feeds on the same food as adults.

O - Omnivore, Organophosphate...

Omnivore:  An animal or organism that feeds on both animal and plant matter.

Organophosphate:  Organophosphate (OP) compounds are a diverse group of chemicals used in both domestic and industrial settings.

Ornithology:  The scientific study of birds as a branch of zoology.

P - Pathogen, Paramere, Parasite...

Pathogen:  Something that can cause disease, e.g. a bacterium or a virus.

Paramere:  Copulatory hooks formed from outer subdivision of primary phallic lobes.

Parasite:  A plant or animal organism that lives in or on another and takes its nourishment from that other organism.

Pelage:  The hair, fur, wool or other soft covering of a mammal.

Pellet:  Hard form of feces produced by drywood termites and dampwood termites when water is in short supply.

Pervasive:  Spreading widely, or present throughout something.

Pesticide:  A chemical used to control, repel, or destroy pests of any sort. There are scores of different types of pesticides which may act specifically, for example, as acaricides (against mites,) fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, molluscicides (against snails and other mollusks,) pediculicides (against lice,) rodenticides (against rats and other rodents,) and scabicides (against scabies,) etc.

Pheromone:  A substance which is exuded externally and which causes a specific predictable reaction in other termites of the same species. Common functions are, alarm substances, trail making pheromones and mate attractants released by the female alate post flight.

Pigment:  A chemical substance that provides coloring. Pigmentation in termites is best seen in the bodies of alates and the heads of soldiers.

Posterior:  Towards the rear, or rearmost.

Possum:  Slang for opossum.

Pubescent:  Having a cover of short hair (opposite of glabrous.)

Pupa:  A resting stage between larva and adult in insects with complete metamorphosis. Not present in termites which have gradual metamorphosis.

Pyrethrin:  A class of organic compounds normally derived from Chrysanthemum.

Q - Queen...

Queen:  The primary reproductive female in a colony. Note that colonies may have multiple queens and also may have supplementary reproductives.

R - Range, Rare, Rash, Relocation...

Range:  The geographic area or areas normally inhabited by a species.

Rare:  Species that are uncommon, and usually potentially at risk because of their restricted geographic area or habitat.

Rash:  An outbreak on the surface of the skin that is often reddish and itchy.

Relocation:  An event in which an animal is moved from where it was captured to another nearby location but within the immediate vicinity. For example, moving a squirrel from a person’s basement and releasing it on the backyard. See Translocation. To learn why translocation is such a bad idea, click inhumane.

Repellent:  A chemical, audible or visual device purported to keep wildlife away from a certain area or material. Repellents rely on one of the following modes of action, fear, pain, or tactile response.

Resistance:  Opposition to something, or the ability to withstand something.

Ridge vent:  A deliberate cap at the peak of a roof that allows hot air to escape. It is covered by a small roof to prevent rain from entering the attic. Click for a photo of a ridge vent.

Riparian area:  The area of influence between upland habitats and aquatic habitats.

Ruminant:  An even-toed hoofed mammal with a stomach of four chambers that swallows its food un-chewed, regurgitates, chews thoroughly, and re-swallows it. Common ruminants are the camel, giraffe, deer, pronghorn, and cattle.

S - Saliva, Salivary glands, Satellite nest...

Saliva:  A fluid secreted by the salivary glands which has digestive and other properties. Termite saliva and feces are important in the construction of carton.

Salivary glands:  Glands opening into the mouth which secrete fluids with digestive and other properties.

Satellite nest:  Typically applied to subterranean termites, an additional nest which supplements the central nest. Differs from a bivouac in that either food or young is stored.

Scat:  The excrement droppings of an animal.

Sclerite:  A sclerotized plate in the exoskeleton or integument.

Secondary Poisoning:  Mortality that results from an animal’s consumption of another animal that succumbed to pesticides. For example, a number of house mice die from mouse poison. A scavenger eats the carcasses of the poisoned mice, and dies from the toxicant still resident in the carcasses of the poisoned mice.

Segment:  A separate part of a body or appendage, typically separated from other segments by a joint.

Serrate:  Appearing toothed or bearing teeth along an edge, as with a saw.

Shelter tube:  A form of termite gallery, constructed over, rather than through a substrate. Typically made with soil, feces, saliva and carton. An extension of the gallery system over an impenetrable surface.

Social insect:  Insects which live as a society so that individuals of the colony exhibit division of labor, polymorphism into castes, reproduction is limited to a few colony members, and there is intergenerational caring for the young. Includes termites, ants and some species of bees and wasps.

Soldier:  The caste which is characterised by a more robust body and sclerotised head and which is considered to have a primarily defensive role. Across the species, soldier heads exhibit a wide variety of forms and functions and this caste is often considered diagnostic by taxonomists.

Species:  Populations of animals that possess common characteristics and freely interbreed in nature and produce fertile offspring.

Species taxonomical:  Grouping of similar populations of organisms are able to interbreed (reproduce) with one another. Often a difficult and arbitrary grouping, not based on the breeding criterion but based on morphology or genetic similarity. It is conventional for termite species names to end in -termes , but there are several exceptions created by attention-seeking taxonomists.

Stage:  A distinct period in development, e.g., egg, larva, adult stage; each instar.

Stealth:  Slow, deliberate, and secret in action or character.

T - Termiticide, Trachea, Trail...

Termiticide:  A substance used to kill insects. Please note that insecticides are typically broad spectrum biocides and are not at all specific as the name might be employed to imply. See also insecticide.

Trachea:  A respiratory system tube, running inwards from an external spiracle into branching into tracheoles.

Trail:  A path created by termites and marked with trail pheromones .

Translucent.  Permitting light to pass through but diffusing it so that persons, objects, etc., on the opposite side are not clearly visible

Traumatic insemination:  Also known as hypodermic insemination, is the mating practice in some species of invertebrates in which the male pierces the female’s abdomen with his penis and injects his sperm through the wound into her abdominal cavity.

Truncate:  Something that appears shortened, cut off or squared at the end.

U - Upland game...

Upland game:  Game species that are managed by the DNR whose habitat needs are usually found in upland areas.

V - Vapona...

Vapona:  (Trade Names: DDVP, Vapona, etc.) is a organophosphate, widely used as an insecticide to control household pests, in public health, and protecting stored product from insects.

W - Waterfowl, Welt, Wing...

Waterfowl:  Water birds, usually referring to ducks, geese and swans.

Welt: A red bump, ridge or swelling of unbroken skin raised by a stinging blow or by an allergic reaction to foods, drugs or insect bites, as in hives.

Wing: Attached in pairs to the thorax, the wing is really a flattened extension of the body wall. In termites the wings are membranous and show reduced venation (veins.) Wings develop over several moults, beginning as wing pads or wing buds, eventually becoming complete and functional.

WCO: An acronym which stands for Wildlife Control Operator. A synonym to NWCO. Some professionals prefer being called WCO’s rather than NWCO’s as they don’t like to call wildlife a nuisance.

Worker: The relatively undifferentiated caste in the termite colony that provide the bulk of the labor. Functions include food gathering, tending the reproductives, eggs and young larvae, repairing and enlarging the nest and gallery system and gathering water.