The mounds of the termite Amitermes meridionalis align more or less north-south which earns them the common names of magnetic termites or compass termites. But the positioning has nothing to do with magnetism, rather the shape allows the nests to be warmed in the mornings and afternoons, while in the heat of midday a minimum of their blade-like structure is exposed to the sun. These termites are endemic to Australia and are often found on ground which is inundated in the wet season and dries out during the dry season. Their mounds enable them to avoid flooded living quarters during the wet while maintaining their preference for relatively high humidity and stable temperature. More than 1,000,000 termites may occupy a mound. The mounds are often found in clusters, looking like a graveyard of grey tombstones. They feed on grass, which they harvest in the dry season and store away as hay for the wet. This is one of the biggest mounds I have seen. At waist height the mount is probably less than half a metre thick, tapering to a sharp edge at the top. Photo by Pat Woolley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>