Most of us are familiar with the ramparts built by ants to protect their underground homes from inundation. As I am waiting for tracks to dry out after rain, so I can get out, I am hoping they don’t mean these ants are expecting more rain.
But these tiny (and very bitey) little insects are moving soft sandy soil.
Unlike their fellow earthmovers, the termites, who, despite being called white ants, are more closely related to cockroaches than to ants.
Termites create cities of hard-packed mounds, towers and pinnacles from their own bodies.
They excrete the wood that they eat and use it to make the ‘mud’ of their fantastic constructions. And it’s estimated that they’ve been doing it for 150 million years.
So hard-packed is the material that it has often been chosen to use for earth floors. It would seem a shame to destroy such an artistic creation as the multi-turreted one above. But how do they decide the intention of shape and direction? Or is it random?
Do the workers ever rebel and follow their own design bent? Like this questing Leunig curl?
As the termite king and queen remain in their chambers, they never get to see the handiwork of their workers, so whims could be perhaps be indulged…