Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I for Isoptera: Termites!

Fun Facts

1) Termites belong to the order Isoptera which means equal wings (equal in lenght).

2) Termites are eusocial insects. A colony divides the labor among castes, produce overlapping generations, and take care of young collectively.

3) Termites feed on cellulose, the main component of palnt cell walls and the most common organic compound on Earth. It can be found in dead plant material generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil and/or animal dung. 

4 ) Cellulose in a termite's food is digested by myriads of microoganisms (ooooo, ahhhhhhh) living in the termite's digestive tract. An excellent example of symbiosis !!! Woot Woot and the crowd goes wild!!! But, that also means they can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests. In the southwestern United States, termite damage is estimated to $1.5 billion each year in wood structure damage (source: Wikipedia). 

5) Depending on the species, termite nests can be entirely subterranean or may protrude above the surface as mounds, some reaching 9 meters tall (30 feet) !!!

6) Termites use mud tubes to travel above ground. The tubes provide protection from predators and prevent water loss due to open air. 

7) It is estimated that certain termite queens can produce up to 30,000 eggs/ DAY! (O_O)

Below is a flash fiction piece (~350 words ) I wrote this morning. The idea came to me last night at 2 am :/ I don't ever write in this tense and it shows but nevertheless, I wanted to take a stab at it.


I sit in the middle of the table, cross-legged. My eyes seduced by the overhead light source.

Flash, flash, flash.

The hallucinations begin.

A parade of psychedelic colors enters my visual field. They swirl in front of me, breathtaking in their juxtaposition. They look soft and warm. I reach out to catch the blue one. It’s quick. I giggle.

Flash, flash, flash.

They vanish.

Now I’m hot. I tug at my robes then my body snaps back. I fall from the edge and hit the ground but feel no pain. I try to get up but my body, rigor mortis-like, does not comply.

“They’re eating my brain,” I say. "I can feel them in my head. Feasting." My voice escalates, my heart starts drumming, my anxiety is climbing.

“Shut up Batskin. No one is eating your brain,” says a voice outside my view.

I wait for my body to melt and then sit up. Clovis is sitting on the couch, the stripes across is right arm show rank. His spoken words are suspended in a green bubble above his head. I’m not comforted knowing he’s here. They’re probably eating his brain too.

Flash, flash, flash.

A small visitor enters the room. It wears a bronze galea on its head. I’ve seen it before; it’s from the OmegaArc 90 sector. It needs to know.

“They’re eating my brain and they’ll eat yours too,” I warn.

“What the hell is he tripping on Clovis?” says the visitor.

“Schizomethtral.” I watch the word trail out of Clovis’s moth. The letters are dancing but he does not see them.

“Crap, Clovis. You know he can’t handle anything from the Craters.”

“I only gave him one hair.”

The visitor approaches me. It’s huge now, a towering figure above me. It looks angelic. Maybe it’s not from OmegaArc 90. Maybe it’s an angel from the Vega moon. My mind wonders, I can’t stop staring at its beauty. “If his eyes dilate any wider, I’m taking him to the medical compound.”

So many words crowd the room. I watch them mix together forming new sentences, mostly gibberish.

“Whatever man. Take him and get out. Both of you are killing my ride.”

 “They’re eating my brain,” I whisper again.

“Calm down Batskin. No zombies here.”

Zombies? It thinks of zombies but it’s wrong!  

I feel a tingle in my sinus, a tickle in my nasal cavity that causes me to sneeze. Something is forced out of my nose. It drops to my hand. Its a small white creature no larger than the lashes on my face.

“What the hell is that?” says the towering figure in front of me.

It sees it too. I am relieved. “Termites from the planet Earth. I told you, they’re eating my brain and they’ll eat yours too.”


IMPORTANT: Just so we're clear about this, the above excerpt is a work of fiction. Termites do NOT eat brains! Unless, your brain is made of wood. 


  1. An interesting post and I loved your flash fiction. I'm glad you put the rider in that termites do not eat brains, no nightmares for me tonight. WEll done.

    1. Thanks Sally. I always get stressed out after publishing my loony flash fiction pieces. :p

  2. I've dreaded termites since I first read about them in National Geographic, years and years and years ago. I've always feared of them getting into my house and making a mess out of everything.

    Love your flash fiction piece. Very creative! :)

    1. Hi Jack. Termites and other WDO (wood-destroying organisms)can be very destructive unfortunatley. If you live in a termite risk area, I suggest you keep an eye out from time to time for mud tubes, especially if you have wood siding on your house that comes in direct contact with the ground. And when in doubt, call a trusted Pest Management Professional for an inspection. But hopefully you'll never have to. (:

  3. OMG Elise, I know you like bugs, but really I don't. Termites, yuck. I like you and your writing though. :)

  4. Termites? Creepy little buggers, huh? Loved the FF piece too. :)

  5. We get wood borer from time to time, but my trusted Pest Control guy sorts it out for me... pronto!
    Loved the flash fiction... made me smile!
    You have a knack with it... know how to "fly by the pants of your seat" with style!

  6. Termites eat your brains?! Just kidding. Fascinating stuff. I don't think we have them in the UK but I could be wrong. Loved the flash fiction!

  7. I really do appreciate your red clarification at the end. But it's too late for me, I suffer from the anxiety and the paranoia and am now absolutely convinced there are bugs eating my brain. It would, explain a lot, actually. Really love your stories!

  8. Mina: You don't know the half of it!

    Michelle: Thanks (((: It's 23h30 over here...time to start tomorrows post. Flying by the seat of my pants is giving me a rash. lol! :P

    Simon: Hello and yes you most certainly do have termites (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/77797.stm) We wouldn't want you to feel left out! Glad you liked the flash fiction (:

    TSG: Did you know I'm half Italian!? Oh and sorry about the creepy stuff...I'll eat some skittles before writing flash fiction next time. (:

  9. Bravo for trying out a new tense - it's fun to experiment, and I like it although it's creepy. I confess - I'm terrified of most insects, and maybe learning about them will help quell the phobia. (Or give me nightmares.) :-)

  10. I used to be fascinated that the queen of a termite dwelling had such a huge body. I know that's what they based the alien queen off of in Aliens.

  11. Li: Thanks for stopping by! I used to be creeped out by bugs until I started learning about their behaviors. They truly are fascinating and can be a source of some crazy inspiration... ((;

    Michael: Yes! And also the movie Priest. The whole vampire-ish species is based on termite biology.

  12. Oh, that picture will be in my head all night now. Ugh.

    Interesting facts, though. I really enjoyed reading about them.

  13. The termites I could have done without, but the flash fiction was fun. *munch munch* Great (er...I think) post! :D

  14. Miranda: Yeah, the yuck factor is pretty high. But I'm glad you enjoyed the rest.

    Melissa: LoL! Glad you liked the *munch, munch* ff! :D


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