Termites are universally considered a “pest”, digging in under your home and causing damage that is a pain to repair.
But, believe it or not, termites are actually an important part of the world’s ecosystem, giving back and sustaining nature, and hold an importance similar to that of bees. Termites are one of the few species on the planet that feed on cellulose, the main ingredient in all wood and most plant life. They chew the wood, extract the cellulose for sustenance and excrete the remains.
So why is this helpful to the environment? Surely chewing someone’s house to the ground doesn’t benefit anybody except the termites and their colony! Well unfortunately in this case, that is essentially true. But as we all know quite well, a man made house isn’t exactly nature, is it?
For the trees
In forests and tree-dense areas, the termites act as a kind of sustenance. Eventually, most trees will perish but still be standing until something knocks it down. What termites do is extract the cellulose for food, and leave behind a number of different substances that refurbish the soil below and help life grow again! Termites are incredible for this reason, as they are able to make wood into usable products. Without them forests would be clogged up with dead trees.
Their tunnels also create waterways to new plantlife when it rains, allowing life to flourish once again.
Plant life flourishing, possibly due to termite activity!
For the beasts
On top of their benefits to photosynthetic life, they have also played a part as a food source for many different species over the years.
Chimpanzees, birds and even ‘cross town rivals’ ants will break into a termite colony to get a quick meal. Termites are high in protein and fats, which make them an ideal choice for a nutritious snack. Some cultures around the world have been known to have pretty nifty recipes for a lovely termite supper! Chilli asparagus and termite salad anyone? YUM!
Although they are an important part of the ecosystem in the wild, I can agree that they are really not much fun hanging around the household all day. But it never hurts to know a little bit about them, I mean they ARE staying in your home. It can’t hurt to get to know the buggers!