segunda-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2015

Termite Mound – the tallest non-human constructions on Earth

When I first saw a termite mound (more than 5 metres) I was confused with ants. People normally think this as they try to make a connection with something they have seen before. After a while I realized that termites are what I know as a “cupim” in Brazil.

Because I’ve never seen such a tall non-human construction on earth, I felt really impressed by them. The “castle” is really hard to break as they build the termite mound using grains of sand and saliva. They are amazing architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. People in the region make bricks from termite mounds to build their houses or pubs since it is so robust.  

It is easy to see termites when they came with winds in the summer burning them in the light. Termites don’t have eyes like ants; they are transparent and very sensitive when exposed to sun and light. Actually the queen of a termite colony has wings to fly and find a new place to create her castle. The secondary reproductive members don’t have wings. If you tried to kill the termite colony, it is only possible after killing the queen. It doesn’t matter how many termites you are going to kill, the colony will survive as the queen is capable of producing over 30.000 termite eggs per day! Over her lifetime, a termite queen can produce upwards of 165 million eggs.

The incredible little queen reigns for 50-60 years until she dies. She has the power of the throne. The queen is so big (almost the side of a human hand) and cannot move. So, the workers surrounding the queen take care of her basic needs. When she dies, the colony dies and the mound becomes a free house for ants or bricks for humans’ house.
Termite bricks for human´s house
In this pub,  the bricks is from termites
Litchfield National Park
Another impressive building is the magnetic termite mounds that look like gravestones on the grass (big cemetery). The mounds are flat and huge. Every mound is cleverly aligned north to south to minimize the exposure to the sun and keeping the mounds cold for the termites. It is possible to see the termite mounds all over the Northern Territory, but the “official” place is in Litchfield National Park.

You can’t believe your eyes as you survey hundreds of two-meter-high termite mounds standing upright in the same direction, like enormous magnetic compasses.

I couldn’t kick the bucket without seeing it.