Termites are sometimes referred to as ‘white ants’ because of their creamy colouring and ant-like appearance. There are over 350 species of termites in Australia of which some 20 species can damage timber in houses.
Termites avoid light and rarely come out into the open. Often termites are found within timbers where they leave a wafer thin layer to protect themselves from the outside environment. Sometimes they conceal themselves within mud-like tubes or galleries.
In nature termites assist in the recycling of organic matter and nutrients back to the soil.
Termites can explode by a contraction of muscles around a large gland that leads to the gland wall breaking. Soldier termites release a sticky secretion by rupturing a gland near the skin of their neck, producing a tar baby effect in defense against ants. It is a form of suicidal Kamakazi.
Groups of termite whose soldiers have been found to explode, are defending their colonies,this is thought to be one of the most effective forms of defense, that termites possess as the ruptured workers, block the tunnels running into the nest, and it causes a one to one exchange between attackers and defenders, meaning attacks have a high energy cost to predators.