Several genera of termites build nests made either wholly or partially from their excrement. Talk about being green and environment friendly. you just can't top that. In both dry wood termites and damp wood termites, the termites' excrement are their first line and main defense. They are used to cut off and stop up the relative safety of their tunnels and passage ways from exposure to their unfriendly surrounding. While damp wood termites generally employed the same mandible strategy of mandibled termites, the general dry wood termites (outside of the few incisor species) second line of defense is to block off the tunnels and passage ways with the specifically engineered head of the soldiers.
Of the larger mound building termites of the Macrotermitinae sub family, the nest mounds are made from a mixture of sand and clay soil (where the condition exists in the habitat). Much had been written about the architectural and engineering exploits of mound building termites but little is mentioned about why (i.e. the reason and purpose) these termites (as least those of this location) would use a mixture of sand and clay to build up their nest mounds. Sand and clay both have their attributes in the face of the weathering by heat (dryness) and rain (water erosion) but when combined the sand holds the mixture together in the face of rain and the clay does the same when it is dry with the sand also preventing the clay from cracking from the lost of moisture.
Globitermes and Dicuspiditermes on the other hand build nest mounds and structures respectively from a mixture of soil, cellulose and excrement. The excrement, wood and soil nest of Globitermes sulphureus rival those of the Macroterminitae termites in ability to withstand the elements those of Dicuspiditermes are slightly less robust. But which ever the case may be all these nest mounds need active maintenance by the termites and once vacated by the termites they would eventually be worn down by the elements (particularly the rain), some more quickly than others.
Generally forest ants and non forest ants are commonly differentiated by their humidity tolerance, as is also true with subterranean ants and arboreal ants. The latter in both cases has a lower humidity tolerance. This is the reason ants such as Paratrechina longicornis, Anoplolepis gracilipes, Odontomachus simillimus, Oecophylla smaragdina and Solenopsis geminata are not found in deep forest though they may be found on the fringes. Though occasionally these may be found in the forest during the dry season, once the rainy season commences any colony that managed to establish itself in these habitats will quickly collapse with the brood and even the queen dying from the excess humidity of the forest.
The Eggs Of Ants
Above and below the nymphal form of a reproductive of the termite Odontotermes.
Oecophylla larva pupating. Naked pupae (i.e. ants that have naked pupae) usually need the aid of the adult workers to pupate successfully.
Queen of Anochetus ant.
Queen of Strumigenys
Queen of the Polyrhachis ants.
First Published: 2010 02 19