Tuesday, 27 May 2014

ABC Wednesday, T for Termites


Termite mounds in Queensland

  The first time I came to Australia, now more than seventeen 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.

 

 

My knowledge about termites is from Wikipedia!



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.

The indigenous people use termites to create their didgeridoos. They use thin trees that are hollowed by termites, blow the termites out of them and then they are almost ready for use.Another way to make a didgeridoo, is to put a thin tree trunk, or a straight branch of a tree  in a termite mound and leave it there until the termites have eaten the inside of the tree trunk.

 

 We thank Denise Nesbitt, who created ABC, and we must thank Roger too for the weekly job to find  ten bloggers for each of the ABC Team members  to visit and to read their posts. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar . This week we are looking for words    beginning with T.


20 comments:

Sylvia K said...

What an amazing post, Wil!! I had no ideas/knowledge about Termites and I really found this fascinating!! Thank you for sharing!! Hope your week is off to a great start!!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

In Malaysia, some people eat the termite queen.

Leslie: said...

Fascinating, but must admit it's a bit creepy to me.

Leslie
abcw team

Roger Owen Green said...

Interesting but they still BUG me!

Marcy said...

They'd better stay away from me....

Hildred said...

Thank you for all this information Wil, - the world is truly an amazing place and we still have so much to learn!

Susan Moore said...

Termites are incredible architects! The insect world is so interesting and amazing.

Rajesh said...

Wonderfully informative. We see these mounds here too in the fields that have been neglected.

photowannabe said...

They are definitely fascinating.
I saw huge termite mounds in Kenya too. They were as tall as a person.

ellen b. said...

Oh dear, as interesting as this is it makes me squirm and itch just thinking of termites

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

They're terrible pests. I knew something about them, because we had to pay someone to get rid of them at one house we bought here in Oregon, before they ate it up!. (But I have never seen mounds like these ones.)

The part about how they use that bored wood for didgeridoos was fascinating.

Snapperoni :: Photography said...

Very informative... but doesn't make me hate these pests any less.. :P

AmitAag said...

Oh those incredibly big termite mounds...amazing!
http://amitaag.blogspot.in/2014/05/transit.html

Cristina Pop said...

Interesting facts about these little creatures...but they are kind of creepy!

K V V S MURTHY said...

Amazing post for T.

Murthy..ABCW Team.

Lisa said...

Termites strike fear in the hearts and minds of every homeowner! I'd feel very disturbed if I ever saw a real termite mound! They're both awesome and terrifying!

Kay said...

Just looking at a termite sends shudders here in Hawaii. Houses so often become homes for termites and their destruction is very expensive. I wish they would just live in the mounds and not go into houses. :- (

Ann said...

The large mounds resemble an animal, very odd. The people sure did adapt to use the hollowed out trees.
Ann

Trubes said...

Hello Wil, what an interesting Tale about the Termite, although I'm not much fussed with insects, they really make me itch.
I wouldn't like to be the queen having to lay all those eggs on a daily basis...
Could be good to have an army of workers to look after you.
Fortunately my house is brick built so we're not likely to be invaded by termites.
Hope all is well with you,
Best wishes,
Di.x

Marja said...

Very interesting to hear about the termites Very interesting to hear how cleverly the didgeridoo was made with help from these termites