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Termites, Those Picky Eaters

Termites are often regarded as gluttonous creatures because of the billions of dollars of damage their appetites generate every year for homeowners, but would you believe that termites are actually picky eaters?

Different species of termites do not want to bump into each other. The preferences for differently sized wood among different species of termites is thought to have much to do with this effort to avoid each other. What’s also interesting about termite pickiness with regard to the size of the wood they eat is that termites are blind.

Termites can in effect listen for the size of a piece of wood. Their antennas and legs are equipped with sensory organs that can pick up the vibrations made by their movement and by their chomping down on the specimen. The frequency of the vibrations varies with the size of the wood. In fact, once scientists determine that a particular group of termites prefers small blocks of wood, they are able to fool them into thinking a large block is a small block by making it create small-block vibrations.

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