A Few Things That You Did Not Know About Termites
Termites have been crawling about this planet for an incredibly long time. In fact, termites are one of the oldest insects still living today. There are many different types of termites in existence today. For example, the African termite is known for building mounds that can reach heights that tower over the tallest of men, and these are not the termites that invade your home in order to chow on your wood. Subterranean termites, on the other hand, are the enemies of humans, and these are the termites that are notorious for destroying peoples’ homes. Of course, we cannot hate all termites since some of them actually benefit the ecosystems where they are found to be dwelling. But it would be smart to learn as much about these wood-eating insects as possible before you find a few in your home.
Termites are known for having tough digestive systems, obviously because they are capable of breaking down wood. The bacteria within the guts of termites break down cellulose, which is the toughest part of a tree. However, termites are not born with the digestive enzymes necessary to break down cellulose, so they have to attain these enzymes somehow. In order to find and consume the microorganisms necessary to break down cellulose, termites must resort to eating feces. More specifically, termites must consume the feces of their fellow termites, and this practice is referred to as trophallaxis. Termites are forced to resupply themselves with more bacteria for their digestive tract after each molt, so termites are forced to consume feces for a good part of their lives.
Since termites make a habit out of eating feces, you would think that they would not bother with grooming, but, apparently, termites like to stay clean. Much like several mammalian species, termites regularly groom each other. By keeping each other clean, termite colonies are able to remain free of dangerous parasites and other harmful organisms that could damage the well being of the colony.
Have you ever heard of any other insect species that consumes strange materials in order to survive? If you have, what type of insect do you have in mind?