Video: Trail-following Termites

It might seem a little reckless to house termites at a wood research laboratory. But they’re important to our Durability and Wood Protection unit, and we’re not afraid to play with fire every now and again. (Actually, we do just that in our Fire Test Lab, but that’s a story for another day.)

Here’s a look inside the termite dream home set up in one of our laboratories. It’s warm, dark, humid, and full of wood and cardboard.termites1Some of the termites also live in smaller termite condos, complete with plenty of cardboard for munching.termites2And while the insects serve a serious purpose, we also have a little fun with them from time to time. Who doesn’t like to show off their special skills?!?

Termites release a trail-following pheromone to keep the colony in line and make sure no one gets lost. Interestingly, the chemicals in pen ink are similar to these pheromones, so termites will follow lines drawn on paper like they would follow their own natural trails.

Fun, right? Skills!