Termites are the bane of many a homeowner. They
dissolve wood to pulp and feed on the insides of trees to
rot out limbs and trunks, eventually bringing down the mighty
giants. Termites work in family groups similar to ants, bees
and wasps. These nests are true masterpieces though, as they
make divided into chambers through tunnels and able to house
thousands, even millions, of insects.
Building materials for termite homes can range
from wood fibers and leaves to mud and wax. Termites will
generally build nests on the ground but they may also build
up high in trees. They are even programmed to build sloping
roofs so as to shed heavy rainfalls in regions in Africa.
Termite homes, or towers, as they are referred
to in Africa are the homes of the Macrotermes which traditionally
live in the grasslands. Their nests can be anywhere from a
few inches to over 20 feet in height, with several nests stationed
near one another creating a farmland of termite housing.
The termites live by collecting plant matter
in the form of fungi, which are then devoured by the termites
for food. Cooling systems in the nests work by pushing out
warm air through a central chimney type opening whilst the
cooler air is absorbed through the walls of the termite mounds.
The walls of the termite mound start off as wet mud but quickly
dry to a hard outer shell in the African sun. Like ants, termites have housing to feed their
young, and a certain portion of the termite population is
set aside to do just that.
A queen of a termite mound can lay up to a thousand
eggs a day, making a termite mound a busy place in a matter
of days. The workers then carry away the eggs to their incubator
spots and wait for the larvae to hatch, ultimately taking
care of them. All in all, the termite is not very different
from the ant. They build their homes, nurse their young, and
do all they can to help their group survive.