The Collision of Colonies: Humans and Termites
Human architecture has allowed people to create breathtaking structures and physical achievements, including the Burj Khalifa, the Empire State Building, and the Sydney Opera House.
In the animal kingdom, termites have been shown to create large mounds as high as eight meters. Relative to the insects’ height, the hills they build are equivalent to the world’s tallest building! Aside from their structures, termites are universally known to be pests and consume a lot of wood in houses and structures, causing damages and a bad reputation for workers in the construction industry.
Stories of early settlers feature encounters with termites and their appetite for wood. Everything they built seemed to be consumed by these insects, so they a hard time coping. Height, distance, and history aside, termite mounds have baffled scientists. Termites would rather build more suitable homes instead of adapting to the environment surrounding them, much like people developing homes that are ideal for their standards of living. For termites, mounds also serve as a home that counteracts temperatures that dry their bodies.
The mounds that termites create are a lesson in temperature regulation and insulation. During the daytime, the outer tunnels heat more rapidly than those inside, creating a circular air current that reverses at night. Instead of just regulating temperature, the mound facilitates an exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The tunnel work and passages in these mounds also echo how much humans can learn from the natural habitats of termites, maybe in terms of building more stable homes or structures that can regulate temperatures and facilitate air exchange.
Aside from their architectural skills, termites have evolutionary patterns that are similar to humans’. In northern Australia, humans migrated from tree-tops to the ground. The relocation of termites was also driven by climate change when Australia, a forest-filled continent, became a drier, desert-like landscape. To adapt to the changes in the environment, termites created mounds, seeking more moisture from the earth. These mounds were being built many years ago. In the same manner, humans create different housing materials depending on the climate. This results in homes with different ventilation and temperature-regulating measures.
Contrary to popular belief, not all termites eat wood and terrorize buildings and houses. Those that eat wood have organisms that help digest cellulose into sugar. As amazing as the breakdown can be, many people can take caution and ensure stability by visiting many hardware stores in Melbourne. You can find timber that’s resistant to termite infestation and extreme weather conditions.
As for non-wood-eating termites, they are essential players in the ecology of Northern Australia, where they eat grass and other matter and are not pests in buildings. The large quantities of matter that they consume make them similar to other mammals around the world that feed on grass.
Instead of giving termites a bad reputation, we can learn from how they adapt to the challenges of their environment. We should foster teamwork if we want to build better homes. These things can help us create a better environment for ourselves and others.