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Termites can be major agricultural pests, particularly in East Africa and North Asia, in which harvest losses can be acute (3100 percent in harvest reduction in Africa).216 Counterbalancing this is the greatly improved water infiltration where termite tunnels in the soil allow rainwater to soak in deeply, which helps reduce runoff and consequent soil erosion through bioturbation.217 In South America, cultivated plants such as eucalyptus, upland rice and sugarcane can be severely damaged by termite infestations, with strikes on leaves, roots and sterile tissue.
The termite gut has inspired various research efforts targeted at replacing fossil fuels with cleaner, renewable energy resources.219 Termites are efficient bioreactors, effective at producing 2 litres of hydrogen from a single sheet of paper.220 Approximately 200 species of microbes live inside the termite hindgut, releasing the hydrogen which was trapped inside timber and plants they digest.219221 Throughout the action of unidentified enzymes in the termite gut, lignocellulose polymers are broken down into sugars and are transformed into hydrogen.
The development of autonomous robots capable of constructing intricate constructions with no human assistance has been inspired by the intricate mounds that termites build.222 These robots work independently and can move by themselves on a tracked grid, capable of climbing and lifting up bricks. Such robots could possibly be useful for future projects on Mars, or even for building levees to prevent flooding.223.
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Termites utilize sophisticated means to control the temperatures of the mounds. As mentioned above, the shape and orientation of the mounds of the Australian compass termite stabilises their internal temperatures during the day. Since the towers heat up, the solar chimney effect (stack effect) creates an updraft of air within the mound.224 Wind blowing across the tops of the towers enhances the circulation of air throughout the mounds, which also include side vents in their construction.
Especially in Africa, the pile effect has become a popular means to realize natural ventilation and passive cooling in modern buildings.224.
The Eastgate Centre is a shopping centre and office block in central Harare, Zimbabwe, whose architect, Mick Pearce, used passive cooling inspired by that used by the regional termites.226 This was the first significant building exploiting termite-inspired cooling techniques to attract international attention. Other these buildings include the Learning Resource Center at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and the Council House 2 building in Melbourne, Australia.224.
Few zoos hold termites, due to the problem in keeping them captive and to the reluctance of government to allow potential pests. One of those few who do, the Zoo Basel in Switzerland, has two thriving Macrotermes bellicosus populations resulting in an event very rare in captivity: the mass migrations of young flying termites.
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African tribes in several countries have termites as totems, and for this reason tribe members are forbidden to consume the reproductive alates.228 Termites are widely utilized in traditional popular medicine; they are used as treatments for diseases and other conditions like asthma, bronchitis, hoarseness, influenza, sinusitis, tonsillitis and whooping cough.208 In Nigeria, Macrotermes nigeriensis is used for spiritual protection and to cure wounds and ill pregnant his explanation women.
It's unknown if the termite was male or female. If it was a female, the entire body length would be far greater than 25 millimetres when mature.
a b Cranshaw, W. (2013). "11". Bugs Rule! : An Introduction to the World of Insects. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-691-12495-7.
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Lobeck, A. Kohl (1939). Geomorphology; an Introduction to the Study of Landscapes (1st ed.) . University of California: McGraw Hill Book Company, Incorporated. pp. 431432. ASIN B002P5O9SC.
Cleveland, L.R.; Hall, S.K.; Sanders, E.P.; Collier, J. (1934). "The Wood-Feeding Roach Cryptocercus, its protozoa, and the symbiosis between protozoa and roach". Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 17 (2): 185382. doi:10.1093/aesa/28.2.216.