Do Termites Really Follow Ink?


Termites are usually associated with infestations, a damaged home, and one big headache. It’s no wonder why most people try not to think about them. At Vulcan Termite, however, it’s our job to know these cream-colored pests from tail to pincers.

Our pest control technicians have spent years learning about termites and studying their behaviors. We’ve learned some pretty strange stuff about them along the way! One of the strangest facts about termites is that they aren’t just attracted to water-damaged wood; they’ll actually follow ink as well. 

Ink Instinct 

Termites, just like any other insect, are driven by instinct. Surprisingly, they can’t see or hear but instead rely solely on smell to get around. They communicate with each other by excreting pheromones and receiving each other’s pheromones with chemoreceptors in their antennae. 

Depending on the termite’s purpose, the pheromones can have a variety of uses. Some are used as mating calls, while others help create trails for navigation. If it wasn’t for the help of pheromones, deaf and blind worker termites would never be able to find their way home. 

Pheromones are also useful in telling termites how to get back to food sources from their nest home. 

As strange as it sounds, some inks have a chemical that mimics the pheromone that termites use to mark their trails; a few of the notorious false communicators are BIC and Papermate blue-ink ballpoint pens. Before you throw out every pen in your home, however, there is some good news. 

Researchers have found in a multitude of studies that termites are not attracted to black or red ink. In addition, they appear indifferent to ink that comes from a rollerball or felt pen. Scientists believe they have discovered the fake pheromone culprit in blue ink, a compound known as 2-phenoxyethanol. This compound triggers the termites’ receptors the same way their navigational pheromones do and leads them to believe they’re on the right path. 

Don’t Try This at Home 

Sadly, creating a blue ink trail isn’t an effective remedy to lure termites out of your home. What’s most effective is having a pest control expert create bait systems based on the termites trail marking habits. If you don’t see any signs of termites, it’s still a good idea to have regular preventative pest control treatments and inspections. 

Got termites? For over 50 years, families in the Birmingham area have turned to Vulcan Termites for pest control solutions. We are one of the largest family-owned and operated termite and pest control companies in Alabama. Our staff is made up of experts in all things pest control. Protect your home and contact us today!