Termites (White Ants) have existed for millions of years and believe it or not the closest insect they are related to are cockroaches not ants. Termites belong to the insect order of isoptera meaning "iso" meaning equal and "ptera" meaning wings, referring to the reproductive termite known as alates which have wings that are similar shape, and venation of the four wings.
Termites (White Ants) are social insects and there a multiple castes within the colony, alates, queen, king, nursery, soldiers and workers. Termites live in a central colony and radiate out from there approximately 100 metres in search of food (timber or cellulose material). The worker termites particularly digest the cellulose materials before returning to the nest to feed the colony. This is what causes damage to our buildings and bank accounts as many Sydney-siders will attest and unfortunately it can happen in a matter of months. That is why a termite inspection is recommended at least once a year.
The reason termites (white ants) are so unpredictable and destructive is that they are blind and cant smell, they blunder upon their food source. Termites can't distinguish between a building or trees. Alate termites swarm three or four times a year usually in summer. Each time they swarm they start up seven new nests usually not far away from the mother termite nest. So that's twenty eight new termite colonies started every year from one nest and it takes approximately seven years for these immature termite nests to become commercially destructive. The most interesting fact about termites is that they feed each other through trophallaxis meaning they get their nutrition from grooming each other (licking the sweat of each others back).