Humans are smarter than termites….

. . . although to observe some people you begin to wonder, but humans have allocated themselves the title of the most intelligent species on the planet.

When you read of conniving and complicated schemes devised to pursue power and money you’d nod in agreement.

We have thumbs as standard equipment so we can pick up tools (and count money) and thought processes to reason, evaluate and anticipate consequences. Yes, there is some variation, but Homo sapiens is smarter than other life forms.

I’ve studied pests for most of my life and recognise that people in general give them ‘smart’ status as well.

Or cunning… like rats. Like dogs, they can learn new tricks. Eyes with more like 5:5 vision compared to our 20:20 but with great sniffers and instincts that have them running warily around the edges of rooms in the dark. However, they soon learn that a well lit food factory at night when humans are all at home watching TV or snoozing has become a safe place and exposed floor areas and benches are safe places to look for morsels… more options.

People give termites advanced engineering status because of their accomplishments of finding palatable wood way up in buildings, tunnelling to it then, in liposuction style, hollowing it out as they take this food back to the nest maybe 50 metres or so away. They can go so close to the timber surface they can leave just the paint so you don’t know they’re in there, yet, they stop hollowing load bearing timbers before the point of collapse. Very impressive.

But it’s their instincts that govern them; their instincts that make them predictable.

They find wood by sending out older workers on humid nights when conditions match those inside the galleries and when predators are fewer. If a worker finds suitable timber and can get back to report its find (most don’t —and we should be pleased about that) a ‘committee’ decides to send out a construction team to build the tunnel up over the foundations, maybe up a wall to the timber. And, in a building, all the bits of timber are joined to each other, Bonanza!

This instinct to go looking for timber, to seal themselves in behind a mud-mixture plastering and to take food back to their nest is just what they do. The only variations are due to the circumstances or situation. If they go places we didn’t expect them to get to, we award them genius status.

I’m no genius, I just decided that bits of wood placed in a plastic box around houses would give scouts something easy to find and seal up before having to struggle up foundation walls.

By having a hole in the lid that termites instinctively had to seal up to keep in humidity, I’d solved the problem of letting homeowners know the termites were in residence. It was then time to push in their mud seal and plonk a bag of delicious bait over the hole so they could take it by the bellyful back to kill the whole colony that they came from.

I thought I’d call them a TermiTrap and Tuckerbag Termite Bait.

No biggie. Humans are smarter than termites and I’m only human.

Death to termites!

The Termite Bloke