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Processional Termites Defy Expectations

Sometimes insects don't look and act the way you'd expect.

subteranean-termite-tube

Take termites. Here in the Southwest, subterranean termites are common, but you don't see them very often. They are tiny insects that spend most of their time hidden inside tunnels in wood or within the mud tubes they build.

The workers are soft and white, like a cooked piece of rice. The soldiers are heftier, with large mandibles and longer yellowish-brown heads.

Still, you don't see them unless you break into their homes.

We also have desert encrusting termites, which make patches of mud over the surface of grass or the bark of trees.

They are also white and soft bodied, and stay out of sight.

In fact, you might think that all termites are like this if you only saw southwestern ones.

So, let's move to Malaysia for a minute. What are the insects in this video?


(Thanks to Steve Naranjo for the video.)

The insects are actively running on a log. They are colorful. In fact, at first they look like ants, but these are processional termites. Rather than munching inside or on wood, they graze on lichens that grow on trees. If you look closely, you can see some of the workers carrying clumps of lichen in their mandibles.

Talk about defying expectations. Aren't processional termites mind-blowing?

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