Constructing Cathedrals

I’m not talking about church type cathedrals here, I’m talking about the amazing structures built by termites!

Cathedral Termite Mound

These towering termite mounds grow over 4 metres tall and are dotted throughout the northern part of Australia. Who would believe that a tiny termite could build such a thing!

This article I found goes into some detail about the role of these termites in the broader ecology of the areas they are found. I thought it was a quick but interesting read. (I can hear some of my friends telling me to ‘get a life, Rosemary’! 😂😂

When I travelled into Litchfield National Park the other day there was a viewing area specifically for looking at termite mounds! The ones on view are quite different to the cathedral mound but no less fascinating as they are magnetic 🧲. Here’s some information about them

They don’t have a magnetic field around them but are constructed in line with the magnetic north and south poles. How do those tiny little ants know these things? And why do they do it anyway?

I read somewhere that scientists tried to trick them by turning their mound away from its north south axis but before long the little termites realigned their structure the way it should be!

So, there’s your nature study lesson for today!

My only experience with termites until now was the ones that chomped through the timber in homes, wreaking havoc as they went and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. I’m definitely having to reassess my attitude to their very clever northern Australia relations.

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