Saturday, 17 January 2009

CC Termites













Another kind of critters in Australia, where I stayed for six weeks to see my daughter. The first time I came to Australia, now more than twelve years ago, I asked about the brown, grey or white mounds among the trees, and it was then that I learned they were termite mounds.

Termites may be considered a pest from a human point of view, but their behaviour and biology is among the most sophisticated and fascinating in the insect world. Like ants, bees and wasps, they are 'social' insects, living in colonies with thousands of individuals of various 'castes' each with a specific function. Most termites are blind and prefer to live in the dark.

Queen King
The Queen termite is the only individual able to lay eggs - her sole function. She is capable of nothing else since her huge abdomen, bloated with eggs, prevents her from moving. She may produce 2000 eggs or more per day. Living in a chamber deep inside the nest, she is fed and groomed by worker termites who also take care of her eggs, carrying them away for hatching. The Queen may live up to 30 years. Tiny creatures in relation to the Queen, King termites live only to mate with her, and while he is quite long-lived when compared to 'ordinary' members of the colony, their lifespan is usually much shorter than that of the queen. They also assist in grooming and feeding her, and will continue to mate throughout their life, ensuring that a steady supply of new colony members is maintained.


Worker Soldier
The Worker termites comprise the majority of the population of a nest, and are the ones who do the colony's 'dirty work', building and repairing the nest, grooming other termites and foraging for food. They are the ones responisble for structural damage to timber. Once a worker has eaten its fill of wood, special bacteria within its gut help it break down the normally indigestible material into a 'soup' which it takes to the nest and shares with others. The fearsome Soldier termites guard the nest from predators. They are usually distinguished by their hugely enlarged heads accommodating massive jaws, their main weapon. Some termite species have also evolved formidable chemical weapons. Nasute (latin for 'nosey') soldier termites repel their enemies by squirting then with a poisonous or sticky substances through a prominent nozzle-like protrusion in their heads.


Nymph Alates
When termite eggs hatch, the young insects or Nymphs are capable of developing into whatever caste is most urgently required by the colony - normally workers or soldiers, or even additional Queen or King termites if more eggs are needed. When conditions are suitable, however, they may develop into a specialised winged caste known as Alates in preparation for establishing a new colony. Alates are the future Kings and Queens of a termite colony. When seasonal, food and weather conditions are just right, winged Alates will swarm from the nest in search of new territory. They are rather poor flyers and depend largely on the wind to carry them along. When a likely nesting location is found, they soon drop their wings, mate and breed new generations of workers and soldiers, starting the cycle again
You can see here more termite mounds


Camera Critters is hosted by Misty Dawn. Thank you so much Misty Dawn.We all enjoy seeing and talking about animals. All creatures great and small give us much pleasure.If you want to see more Camera Critters click on the logo in the side bar

23 comments:

Carol said...

Very informative Wil.........
We are over run with Ants who build huge mounds everywhere.
I sometimes think we are living above a metropolitan city of Ants!
I think nature is just fascinating!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Very similar behaviour to bees and ants, reader wil. Glad to say we do not have termites here! I just love those sleeping baby photos - kitten and human!

Rocky Mtn. Girl said...

Fascinating! That was neat... I came across a gigantic ant hill near a river one day and it was incredible watching these insects. They all had a purpose, a job, and it was so incredibly interesting to watch..
A very good post!
(Hug)
~Michele~
Mountain Retreat

ChrissyM said...

Your post are always so informative, I love it!! Nature is just so fascinating!

Old Lady Lincoln said...

Very interesting. Hoping you have one terrific week-end.

Dianne said...

the cathedral mounds are amazing!! although if I ever see them in my yard I will freak out just a bit ;)

Middle Ditch said...

Great post Wil. Beautiful pictures.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Thanks for telling me who the skater was. I would have had no idea.

david mcmahon said...

Great detail on a familiar subject. Yes, I remember you telling me that your daughter lives here and you have spent time in Australia.

All the very best for 2009.

Babooshka said...

Fascinating. Not so humble a creature is it the ant. We could learn from these little guys.

The Vintage Rose said...

To clean tea stains from mugs, cups use bicarbonate soda and a drop or two of water and rub.

Cloudia said...

Gee, I thought they were a problem here! Interesting, Wil.
aloha.

Patricija said...

thanks for sharing souch a fantastic and also very informative story about termits

hug, p

Karen said...

Really informative post. Thankyou!!!

Those really are amazing photos..

Carolina said...

Finally....a fellow Dutch person, oftewel: eindelijk nog een Nederlander. Mooie foto's. Dat zulke kleine diertjes zulke ingenieuze bouwwerken kunnen maken.
Geweldige foto's ook van al die slapende dieren. Schattig!

starnitesky said...

Thanks for all the information, great pictures too.

Barbara Martin said...

An informative post.

I love your header photo of the hoar frost on the trees. How wonderful.

Carolina said...

Hoi, ik woon ook in Nederland. In een dorpje vlakbij de stad Groningen. Tot nu toe ben ik bij het bladeren in de blogs nog maar twee landgenoten tegengekomen. Since nearly everyone here in Blogland is English-speaking, I feel a bit guilty writing in Dutch. Nice to meet you! Will visit more often.
Bye.

Carolina said...

Hi Wil, dank voor je berichtjes. Ik heb inmiddels alles bekeken. Er zijn ontzettend veel leuke memes om aan mee te doen. Grappig, er gaat echt een wereld voor me open. Vanmiddag zal ik me eens in de My World Meme verdiepen.
Fijne dag verder!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

EWWWW! Interesting but EWWWW!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

WoW! Termites live in mounds in Australia? Their lives certainly is complicated!

Mamapippa said...

Hoe die kleine beestjes toch zo'n bouwwerk kunnen maken !
Groetjes !

Brenda said...

We had to spend thousands on the damage they did at our house. I used to love to watch ants when I was a little girl.