Friday, April 13, 2007

Termites II

Termites are quite pleased to decompose anything that is made of wood, regardless of where it's found. It could be a dead branch up in a tree, it could be litter on the forest floor, or even your house, if you give them a chance. The mounds in the image are the result of termites invading some tree trunks left over from clearing of an area close to the Bosque reception center. The little devils have been eating away at the wood for the last five years and only two weeks ago did one of the mounds fall over. The old tree trunk is still standing, so I assume the nest became too heavy for the support, or water may have infiltrated the nest. They can become quite heavy in this case and it's common for them to fall. Termite nests are made up of a paste of decomposed wood, leaves and fecal material and tend to be waterproof. Other critters can take advantage of this ready-made home, for example, snakes, spiders and even birds. There was a black-tailed trogan nesting inside the far mound at the time this picture was taken. There are times when I break open a small patch of the nest to show visitors the heavy population of termites. The next day I can be assured that the area will be completely repaired ... and life goes on.

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