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Termites Use Their Own Faeces in Self Defence

Scientists have been wondering for years what makes termites so resistant to extermination efforts. Finally, a nine year study has come up with answers – the termite’s own faeces offer them protection.

According to Reuters, the droppings used to build their nests cultivate good bacteria that attacks pathogens that would otherwise kill the insect. This is believed to be the main reason why biological controls have been so unsuccessful in controlling them.

Entomology professor at the University of Florida, Nan-Yao Su, said that this was a biological adaptation developed over millions of years.

The findings could end over fifty years of fruitless research and encourage scientists to investigate promising new avenues.

Termites cause $40 billion worth of property damage each year, destroying wooden structures around the world. By the time a house is infested, the colony has usually built a nest 300 feet in diameter that homes several million termites. In one case, termites in Hawaii destroyed a home within nine months after it was built on their nest.

Researchers will now try to find ways to bypass the protective action of termite faeces.