Termite Facts

Termite Facts
Termites are large group of insects that exist on Earth for more than 250 million years. There are 2600 known species of termites. They live on almost every continent. Termites usually inhabit tropic and sub-tropic areas, but they can also survive in other climates. Termites are absent from the Polar Regions because they cannot survive on the low outer temperatures. Ecologically, termites are valuable insects because they decompose (eliminate) huge amount of decaying plant material. Termites that live near the human population produce a lot of damage by destroying the houses and objects made of wood.
Interesting Termite Facts:
Termites live in colonies which consist of nymphs (semi-mature young), workers, soldiers and reproductive males and females. They all differ in size, shape and function they perform.
Termites look like ants, but they are more closely related to cockroaches.
Mound is a house where colony of termites resides. One of the largest known mounds was 42 feet tall (like a two-story house).
Mounds are very strong and stable structure made of mud, soil, digested wood, feces and saliva. "Workers" are in charge for building and maintaining of the mounds.
Soldiers are in charge for the protection of the mound. In the case of danger, soldiers kick the wall of the colony (which produces vibration) to alert other termites.
Both workers and soldiers are almost completely blind because they spend their whole life in the dark.
Kings and queens can see because they need to find a mating partner. Female queen lives between 15 and 25 years and she lays one egg every 15 seconds, which results in 30 000 eggs per day!
Termites are numerous because of the fast reproduction. Large mounds can host over 3 million termites.
Some scientists estimate that for each human on the planet comes 1000 pounds of termites. 1000 pounds is the weight of an adult cow.
Termites consume both decaying and live wood. They also eat fungus that live on the decaying trees.
Termites cannot digest cellulose from the wood without help of the intestinal microorganisms. More than 100 species of bacteria and protozoa live inside their guts and help them in food digestion.
Young termites are not born with microorganism in their guts. Before they start consuming wood, they need to eat feces of other termites to equip their intestines with required number of bacteria and protozoa.
Tight interaction between termites and microorganism is called "symbiosis", and it is beneficial for all of them.
Termites are preyed by lot of different animals: anteaters, aardvark, aardwolf, pangolin, echidna, birds and large bugsā€¦ People in some parts of the world also eat termites as special treat.

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