The Islands Within The Okavango Delta Were Created By Termites | Termite Control
The world is full of remarkable land formations that capture the fascination of many people, particularly scientists. Some land formations are mysterious in that researchers have yet to understand how they were formed. Land formations that are commonly found to be awe inspiring stand a good chance of making it onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Unbelievably, termites are credited with contributing to two different types of land formations. These land formations include the famous fairy circles in Africa and the islands located in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. The fact that termite activity is largely responsible for these land formations has only recently been understood by scientists. The islands in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana were not only made by termites, but the Okavango Delta was recently added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
In order to have a land formation be considered as an UNESCO World Heritage site the area must be deemed to have “outstanding universal value”, and the islands located within the Okavango Delta certainly qualify. The land formations are unique because they are essentially small islands located in a wetland in the middle of the desert. This particular delta is also strange in that it does not flow into the ocean. The islands could only have been formed by multiple ecological factors that rarely work together to create land formations.
When it comes to the formation of the delta’s islands, termites are the factor that scientists had never considered until fairly recently. The islands began as termite mounds that eventually grew trees and formed into islands. As the trees grew, more water and nutrients were brought up to the surface in order to nurture the tree’s growth. After awhile this process drained the delta of water, but the water was replaced by water from nearby floodplains. Researchers believe that most islands within Botswana’s deltas originated as termite mounds.
Have you ever visited a delta containing islands that were most likely formed by early termite mound building activity?
The Endless War Between Ants And Termites | Phoenix Pest Control
Termites are prey animals that have evolved to avoid confrontations with predators, as opposed to fighting predators. Of course, termites do possess features that allow them to violently defend their territory, but these defensive measures often claim the lives of termites themselves. For example, when termites are being bombarded by insect invasions within their nests, some termite species can self-destruct in order to kill all nearby insect invaders. It is rare to see a termite crawl away from a violent conflict with a predator. Ants are easily one of the most threatening termite predators, and large battles between these two insects are common. It has long been known that Matabele ants are constantly on the lookout for termite prey, but a recent study has revealed that these ants make use of a clever predatory tactic that no other termite predator has ever demonstrated.
Termites and ants are constantly indulging in warfare at the Comoé National Park in Côte d’Ivoire. Erik Frank, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland has recently conducted a study on the warfare tactics used by Matabele ants during their predatory hunts for term
ites. Matabele ant colonies contain scout-ants that search for termite nests. Once these scout-ants locate a termite nest, they promptly report back to their colonies. At this point Matabele ants plan their invasion.
Matabele ants are significantly larger than termites, but they do not owe their predatory success to their size, but to their speed. As it turns out, termites can successfully escape Matabele ant attacks most of the time. Once the ants attack a termite nest, the termites are quick to flee to another location where food is available. When it comes to traveling to a food source, ants always take the shortest route, but due to rough terrain, the shortest route is not always the fastest. Matabele ants are the first ants to demonstrate a different traveling method; instead of taking the shortest route to termites, these ants have learned to take the fastest route. According to data, this method saves traveling time by thirty five percent. Matabele ants developed this method of hunting solely to catch speedy termites.
Do you know of any other insect species that have developed more advanced methods of foraging?
How Do Violent Conflicts Between Termites Influence Their Lifespans?
Termites are relatively understudied insects within the field of entomology. This is somewhat surprising given the significant economic costs associated with termite structural damage. Termites in the United States alone cause billions of dollars each year in damages. You would think that a greater scientific understanding of termite behavior would be desired in order to more effectively combat these destructive insects. However, termites are regarded with widespread disinterest, as there are many other fascinating insects in the world that capture the curiosity of academics and scientists. Although termites may not be the most interesting of insects, the fact that termite queens can survive for a longer amount of time than any other insect species is worthy of attention. A recent study examined how intercolony conflict between termites can influence the lifespan of queen and king termites. Additionally, the study authors were able to determine how warring termite colonies resolve conflict after the death of each side’s royal pairs.
For the study, researchers collected Z. n. nevadensis termite species from the wild. These termites spend much of their lives in trees where encounters between different colonies are common. The researchers placed two different colonies into artificial arboreal conditions in order to gauge intercolony behavior. Since termite colonies vary drastically in age, encounters between two colonies of the same age is not the norm. When two termite colonies of the same age made contact in the lab, violence soon followed. The subsequent conflict resulted in the deaths of a royal pair from one colony while the royal pair from the other colony survived. The remaining workers and soldiers from the defeated colony were eventually absorbed into the victorious colony. When colonies of different ages were introduced, the older colonies killed off the younger colonies entirely, leaving the royal pair and all of their worker and soldier offspring dead. It was also found that termite queens would die unusually young if they had survived previous intercolony conflicts. The reason for this is not clear, but researchers believe that the queens may have died young due to injuries sustained during previous skirmishes. In general, colonies that are relatively large will live for a longer period of time than smaller colonies.
Have you ever seen a termite queen in a Zoo or even in the wild?
How Do Termites Successfully Escape From Predators?
Since termites are relatively small organisms, you would think that they would stand almost no chance of surviving an encounter with a predator. Surprisingly, a termite’s small size affords them many advantages during predatory attacks. For example, subterranean termites, as their name suggests, spend most of their time below the ground’s surface where predators cannot reach them. Despite this advantage, subterranean termites still need to beware of predators that also burrow within the soil. Other types of termites, most of which are non-soil dwellers, such as many drywood and dampwood termite species, dwell within pieces of dead or living timber.
Termites protect themselves by avoiding exposure to the outside world as much as possible. Termite-built nesting structures, tunnels and mud tubes keep termites hidden from their predators. However, termites are sometimes attacked within the wood and nests that they inhabit. When termites are a
ttacked within these shelters, researchers cannot possibly observe their escape strategies. Luckily, the black-winged termite species is in a unique position to shed more light on the methods of escape used by termites under attack.
The black-winged termite is native to southeast Asia, and they are known for building mud tubes along the length of trees from the crown to the routes. Given this termite’s exposure to predators during mud tube construction, researchers are able to observe how this termite escapes from predatory attacks.
Past studies that focused on termite escape behaviors could only be conducted within laboratories. These lab studies showed that termites escaped from predators immediately, but the recent field study showed termites indulging in a “wandering behavior” in response to an attack. Wandering behavior has been observed in other animals under similar hostile conditions. Socially inclined animals that move in herds may take time to develop a team strategy for escape, and this can look like wandering to observers. An individual termite may feel restrained from escaping alone from a predator if the colony is still in danger. In a termite’s case, the survival of the colony is more important than individual survival. This may explain why individual termites escape at lower speeds than termites escaping in groups. In this case, the slow-moving individual termite may be more focused on serving or regrouping with its colony rather than successfully escaping from a predator. Immediately after a predatory attack, termites may also wonder in order to survey the outside conditions before making a getaway. Finding safe places in the environment to hide is a necessity for termites that were born and raised within nests.
Have you ever seen a group of termites fleeing in response to a disturbance?
Cockroaches: Why They Are So Hard to Control
Magic Pest Control explores why these reviled pests can be difficult to eliminate from homes
Cockroaches are some of the most adaptable pests on Earth. These long-despised creepy creatures have been around for more than 280 million years, and in this time have evolved to display some unique behaviors and survival tactics that allow them to thrive in many different environments, including homes. Magic Pest control reminds homeowners that while controlling cockroaches can be particularly challenging, doing so is vital to protecting human health.
Cockroaches are known to cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma attacks, especially in children. These pests can also spread 33 kinds of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. If spotted, homeowners should call a pest professional to evaluate the severity of the problem and recommend a course of treatment.
Magic Pest Control offers insight into what makes cockroaches so difficult to control without the help of professional pest control services:
- Resilience. Cockroaches can live for up to a week without their heads. They can also hold their breath for 40 minutes and even survive being submerged in water for half an hour. Additionally, some species are able to withstand freezing temperatures.
- Small size.Cockroaches are small pests, so they can easily hide in cracks and crevices. Male cockroaches can fit through an opening as small as 1/16 inch in width or the thickness of a quarter.
- Quick speed.Cockroaches are very fast and can run up to three miles an hour. A newborn cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, runs nearly as fast as its parents.
- Irregular feeding habits.Cockroaches can survive for up to one month without food and one week without water. They are omnivores and are attracted to all types of foods, including sugars, proteins and fats.
To prevent cockroaches, Magic Pest Control suggests keeping a meticulously clean kitchen, eliminating moisture in bathrooms, sealing all cracks and crevices inside and outside the home and keeping basements and crawlspaces dry and well-ventilated.
Dodge Ant Infestations this Summer
Magic Pest Control offers prevention tips for homeowners to avoid ant problems
Spotting a line for food at a summer barbeque can be exciting, but not when it’s accompanied with a line of ants. Magic Pest Control says prevention of these picnic-crashing pests is key because they can be difficult to control once they infiltrate a property in large numbers.
Summer cookouts, and the crumbs they leave behind, are the perfect targets for ants in need of food and water. There are, however, quick tips and tricks that homeowners can use to sidestep ant infestations. These simple efforts can go a long way, as ants can contaminate food and colony sizes can be quite large depending on the species.”
Homeowners can implement the following ant prevention:
- Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water; repair leaky pipes or faucets.
- Quickly clean up crumbs and spills as soon as possible.
- Do the dishes, wipe down counters, tabletops, sweep up floors and remove trash regularly.
- Don’t leave leftover dog and cat food dishes sitting out all day; pick up dishes once the animals are done eating.
- Check under appliances and behind garbage cans where crumbs and residue can accumulate.
- Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
- Seal any cracks or small openings around the foundation of the home and repair ripped screens as these can serve as entry points.
For more information visit www.magicpestcontrol.com
The Phoenix Family That Captures And Eats Wild Scorpions
These days more and more people are trying to maintain a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients. As a result of this health craze, several diet fads have become popular in recent years. Ten years ago westerners would never have considered making insects a part of their diet, but now edible insects are being touted as a superfood. The western world has been slow to embrace edible insects, but a few brave westerners have successfully integrated insects into their diet. Edible insect products are available in the United States, but not all edible insect enthusiasts purchase their insect meals commercially. For example, one family in Phoenix, Arizona hunts, cooks and eats wild scorpions. Of course, scorpions are technically arachnids, and not insects.
Most Americans have never tried eating edible insects, and those that are willing to try eating insects would most likely refuse to eat scorpions. However, if you live in the southwest US scorpions make for convenient food items, as their abundance in this region makes them easy to find. Scorpions can be dangerous, and given the high scorpion population in the southwest, these arachnids often find their way into people’s homes. In the state of Arizona, it is not uncommon for people to hunt and kill scorpions in an effort to reduce scorpion attacks. However, the Mauls family not only hunts scorpions; they also cook and eat them.
One day Josh Mauls and his family went scorpion hunting. Upon finding a few scorpions, Josh’s four year old son asked if he could eat one. After conducting a bit of research on the topic, Josh finally told his son that scorpions can indeed be consumed. It took some trial and error before the Mauls family mastered the art of cooking scorpions. When cooking scorpions, the Mauls family removes the stinger, and the venom is neutralized during the cooking process. For those of you who wish to capture, cook and eat your own scorpions, be sure to do a bit of research first, as improperly prepared scorpions can be difficult to swallow.
Would you be willing to taste cooked scorpion?
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Why Scientists Want To Preserve Fireflies
Fireflies may be the most beloved of all insects. As children, the sight of fireflies glowing on and off in the distance was nothing short of fascinating. For many adults, fireflies not only conjure up pleasant memories from childhood, but their glowing bodies indicate that summer has officially arrived. Fireflies are immediately recognizable, and many children never tire of attempting to capture the bugs in mason jars, but how much do people really know about fireflies? As it turns out, fireflies are more than just an interesting group of insects, as firefly activity can indicate the relative health of a particular ecosystem. Unfortunately, this means that, much like other insect species today, firefly populations are decreasing due to environmental hazards. In response to this loss in firefly life, experts formed the Firefly Watch project at the Museum of Science in Boston. This project aims to preserve and track firefly populations in America.
The Firefly Watch project recruits thousands of citizen scientists from all fifty states and several Canadian provinces in order to track trends in firefly populations around North America. Starting just a couple of months ago, the Firefly Watch program was taken over by Mass Audubon. This organization is working closely with Tufts University in order to continue the research started by the Firefly Watch program. Mass Audubon is still looking for more citizen scientists; anybody can sign up for the project by visiting the Museum of Science in Boston website.
Researchers also want to preserve fireflies due to their value in the field of medicine. Fireflies are helping researchers to understand how diseases such as cancer and muscular dystrophy attack human cells. Fireflies have also been used to detect food spoilage and bacterial contamination. Perhaps most surprising is the fact that fireflies are even used by NASA officials when developing instruments that are designed to detect life beyond our own planet.
Have you ever attempted to catch fireflies as an adult? Did the fireflies that you captured as a child live longer than a single day in captivity?