In some regions – notably arid and tropical savannas, the single termite along with their colony member will construct extremely large and elaborate mounds which will house their colonies. These mounds can have very distinctive forms and are often tall wedge-shaped termite mounds with the long axis oriented approximately north to south. Actually, this formation has a purpose in their lives as they show to help in thermoregulation – or the temperature control that will allow the termites to live comfortably in a conducive environment to help them grow and thrive.
There is a column of hot air rising in these above ground termite mounds that will help drive circulation currents inside the network of the mound thus keeping it cool enough inside that they can thrive and repopulate. Who doesn’t love a cool environment – especially when you are trying to live in a place that is typically warm and humid? That’s why termite mounds are so important to the termite colonies.
Some mounds can reach heights of six feet, but most of them will build their mounds somewhere around two feet or so. The structure of the termite mounds can be quite complex. Temperature control is essential for those species that cultivate fungal gardens. Even for those who don’t, much effort and energy is spent maintaining the colony within a narrow temperature range with a specific range of a degree or two which makes the living environment comfortable and wonderful living conditions.
One of the reasons that termite mounds are able to regulate temperature so consistently is because of the complex system of ducts and holes that they build within the structure of the structure. What is perhaps one of the more fascinating facts of the insect world is that there is no other species of insect that is capable of constructing such an effective structure as the termite mound.
With literally millions of inhabitants in a single mound, located in a nest buried approximately a meter beneath the ground, they face a formidable challenge to ventilate the colony and maintain both temperature and moisture constants whilst protecting the colony from the harsh environment outside in which they would perish. These termites are like aliens on our own planet. So specialized have they become in their method of survival, that they must construct their habitats with the same due diligence as we would in placing a human colony on another planet.
Where we struggle to derive enough energy to thrive with our current technologies, termites have evolved construction methods which only utilize renewable energy sources. To us, it is currently inconceivable that renewable energy resources alone can supply enough energy for our race to thrive in the face of the growing decline of our non-renewable energy supplies. So how successful is their race at thriving? There is estimated to be some 500 kilograms of termites for every human alive, which shows they must be doing something right.