Termite mound building
- Cite this article as:
- Harris, W.V. Ins. Soc (1956) 3: 261. doi:10.1007/BF02224306
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Termite mounds present a convenient record of the behaviour of their builders which can be studied at leisure. More usually, insect behaviour has results of a transitory nature, difficult to record and subject in their interpretation to the personal idiosyncrasies of the observer. A behaviour pattern which is specific to a particular termite may, however, result in mounds which appear superficially different under different environments, while two different species may produce mounds which appear to be similar in the same environment. It follows that the use of termite mounds as indications of species behaviour must be considered with care if there are wide differences in environmental factors in the areas being dealt with.
The following remarks arise mainly from observations made in Eastern Africa on the large mounds constructed by three species of the genusMacrotermes. Of these,Macrotermes bellicosus (Smeath) is the most widely distributed, occuring from Eritrea (and Aden) in the north to the borders of the Union of South Africa in the south, from sea-level to 1 800 metres, under most conditions other than tropical rain forest and desert sand.Macrotermes natalensis (Hav.) andMacrotermes goliath (Sjost.) have more restricted distributions within the range ofbellicosus.