Termite Engineers; What The?

We often have an ambiguous relationship with insects, entire groups are prejudiced because of a few pest species. Termites are an excellent case in point. In most cases we only think of the damage they can do to timber in buildings.

Termites are impressive builders, dotting the landscape with their imposing structures. Bob Peterson/Flickr, CC BY-SA
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But termites are in fact great soil engineers. They play a key role in the functioning of many tropical and subtropical landscapes, such as those found over much of northern Australia. They decompose wood and grass, and they are also social creatures, living in great colonies that sometimes produce a characteristic mound. Their region of influence in the soil is termed the termitosphere, and this is where termites are busy nutrifying, aerating, moistening and mixing the soil.

Termites are small but numerous, and their biomass can exceed 50 grams per square metre, much greater than mammalian browsers in the same environments. Because termite mounds are intense, crowded insect cities full of life, growth, decomposition, waste and death, soil nutrient levels are much higher around them – up to seven times higher in one Australian example.

Termite excavations move soil around between layers, and create tiny holes in the soil that allow air and moisture to infiltrate. Termites modify many soil characteristics, improving and increasing the productivity of soils, and they do this free of charge over much of northern Australia. Overall, the positive benefits of the termitosphere are far greater than the costs.

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Termites have been here for millions of year (I don’t know how they can work this out but they have), and as I like to call they the silent destroyer.

Most of the time, without a Termite Inspection they go without been seen, until you lean on the wall or open the door and it falls off, and then it’s to late.

For the price of a termite Inspection, it out way’s the cost of damages done by these unforeseen silent destroyer.

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