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How Could Forest Dwelling Termites Possibly Survive Massive Wildfires

It is a shame that termites are commonly regarded with disdain. Although it is true that termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage every year in the United States alone, these admittedly destructive insects are capable of feats that no other insect, animal or even human could accomplish. It is becoming increasingly well known that termites promote vegetative growth by removing dead plant matter from the ground before converting it into matter that contributes to soil fertility. Therefore, just by consuming wood, termites provide two seperate environmentally beneficial services. Even more impressive are the naturally air conditioned and architecturally complicated 30 foot tall nesting mounds that higher termites build in African and Asian regions. As impressive as these abilities are, no degree of inventiveness or mutual cooperation among termites can prevent them from becoming incinerated in forest fires. After all, forest fires can span hundreds of acres and can travel at fourteen miles per hour, destroying absolutely every animal, plant and insect in its path. Despite the small amount of studies concerning termite morality during wildfires, their does exist valid scientific evidence to suggest that forest-dwelling termites can indeed survive wildfires.

It goes without saying that a great number of termites parish during wildfires, but given their high abundance relative to other forest dwelling arthropods, an unexpectedly high amount also survive. The reason for this has to do with their subterranean nature, as termites can seek refuge from wildfires several feet below the soil’s surface. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood and dampwood termites are not afforded the same protection from wildfires, and subterranean termites must already be present well below the ground’s surface in order to survive a wildfire. Some studies have demonstrated that mound-building termites can survive wildfires by remaining within their nesting mounds. Due to the unique composition of termite mounds, which is best described as “hard clay,” they are well insulated from the extreme heat emitted by a wildfire. Several studies have also revealed that termite populations are more abundant than other insect populations following wildfires. While termites certainly have an advantage over other insects when it comes to surviving wildfires, studies on this topic differ in their results and further research is necessary before positing that termites are relatively unaffected by wildfires.

Do you believe that any other forest-dwelling insect groups could have an advantage when it comes to surviving wildfires?

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Hungry Termites Consumed One Girl’s Entire Book Collection | Termite Control

Hungry Termites Consumed One Girl’s Entire Book Collection | Termite Control

Typically, insects are not interested in eating paper materials, as paper is lacking in many essential nutrients. However, there are a few exceptions within the insect community, and termites are certainly one of them. Drywood termites are found infesting books and bookshelves far more often than you may think. In fact, many people have never heard of this form of destructive termite activity, but termites love the cellulose in paper just as much as they love the cellulose in wood. In the past, drywood termite infestations within books have occurred in several libraries and museums around the world. Subterranean termites do not pose a significant threat to books since they must regularly expose themselves to groundsoil in order to survive. Drywood termites, on the other hand, can live their entire lives within a book, or a collection of books, without ever leaving. The cellulose in a book’s paper provides drywood termites with all of the nourishment that they require. These types of infestations have been documented in the past, and they can continue uninterrupted for years before their presence becomes known to humans. Since subterranean termites forage beneath the ground’s surface, books that are stored within basements can be vulnerable to their attacks.

Termite infestations within books usually go unnoticed until  they move on to damaging other objects nearby, such as wood shelving. One girl has recently lost most of her book collection to ravenous termites. More than eighty of Dorcas Aguayo’s books became ravaged by termites, and she does not know how or when the termites gained access to her home. Aguayo posted pictures of the termite-ravaged books on Facebook, where they can still be seen. The caption below one of her photos claimed that the termites had destroyed seventy percent of her library. The books were very dear to Aguayo, as she had spent her life reading them repeatedly as a source of comfort and happiness. Unfortunately, the books also brought happiness to termites.

Have you ever wondered if a termite infestation was present within your home despite not noticing any clear signs of their activity?