The Entomological Society of America now classifies termites as cockroaches

It’s the biggest reclassification (not really) since Neil de Grasse Tyson deemed Pluto wasn’t deserving of a planetary title.

Termites are the new cockroach, says the Entomological Society of America in their updated master list of insect names. Recategorizing the termite order is backed by decades of genetic evident that the wood chippers should be a part of the cockroach order, Blattodea.

Rumblings of termites being lumped into the cockroach order have been around since the 30’s, when researchers first reported that the microbes in termite guts are present in wood-eating cockroaches, too.

As technology advanced and the genealogical relationship kinks were ironed out, so too did the argument that termites are simply a part of the hydra-like family tree of cockroaches. The first suggestion of reclassification came from termite biologist Paul Eggleton of the Natural History Museum in London in 2007 in his study, Death of an order, where he positioned termites on the tree near the Cryptocercus cockroach.

Chemical ecologist and cockroach enthusiast Coby Schal at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, U.S.A, has said simply that termites are nothing but social cockroaches. For example, Macrotermes termite colonies can grow to three million strong, despite having just a single queen and king.

Deciding whether to demote the entire termite order was an unusual conundrum, says Whitney Cranshaw of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, who was one of the naming committee members put to a vote.

Probably some of us, including myself, didn’t want to make the change because we liked it the way it was, he said. Namely, it was a lot easier for his students to memorize termites and cockroaches as a part of distinct orders, but he voted in favour of the change anyway.

It’s what’s right, Cranshaw shrugged.

What hasn’t changed? Pest control!

This reorganization is all well and good for the science community, but what about what’s really important to the people‚ how does this effect pest control?

It doesn’t. Regardless if you call termites roaches or any other name, they’re still destructive household pests that wreak havoc on the foundation and integrity of your home. Timely, immediate cockroach control is essential if you notice even a single termite nearby because if there’s one termite, be sure there are several (hundred, or thousands) nearby, too.

Likewise for cockroaches (no, not termites, are you confused yet?), immediate cockroach control is imperative to prevent infestations from reaching critical, untenable levels. They rapidly multiply, so a small pest problem can turn into a sizeable cockroach infestation in a hurry.


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