Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Insects and Spiders » Termites: Isoptera - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Termites And People, Conservation Status, Eastern Subterranean Termite (reticulitermes Flavipes): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT

Termites: Isoptera - Termites And People

gold products wood mounds

Most people think of termites as pests, and with good reason. Their feeding and nesting activities damage or destroy wood and wood products used in books, furniture, buildings, telephone poles, and fence posts, causing millions of dollars of damage every year. Millions of dollars more are spent trying to control their populations or get rid of them. Termite control methods include applying heat to infested areas, freezing them with liquid nitrogen, and zapping them with microwaves or electrical shocks. Each method is used for a particular kind of infestation. Lumber yards now treat much of the wood used in the construction of buildings with chemicals designed to repel termite attacks.

GOING FOR THE GOLD

A Canadian geologist, a scientist who studies rocks, visited Niger to look for the best sites to find gold. He had read that ancient African civilizations used termite mounds, sometimes 6 feet (1.8 meters) high and 6 feet across at the base, to locate deposits of the precious metal. Some termites dig down 250 feet (76 meters) below the surface and use gold-bearing soil to build their mounds. He managed to find a few mounds with gold, suggesting possible sites for further exploration.

Because of their ability to convert plant materials into animal protein, termites could be used to turn large amounts of raw plant waste into food for humans. The feeding activities of termites could be applied to breaking down sawdust and scrap lumber piling up in sawmills or eliminating straws, bean pods, and sugarcane pulp from food and sugar-processing plants. They might even be used to break down dried dung gathering in cattle feed lots and dairy farms. Raised on these waste products, the termites could then be fed to chickens and fish raised for human consumption. Raising large amounts of termites on these and other waste products is challenging and requires more termite research.

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