Why Are There Wings of Hatched Termites On The Floor?
If you're fortunate to be in an area of Panama right now that has a healthy forest or jungle, you may be waking up to thousands of tiny little wings all over your terrace or outside floor in the morning. It's like there was a global gathering of millions of tiny fairy's in the jungle last night and for some reason, they all lost their wings!
Well, according to the tall tales of the jungle, fairies lose their wings at the change of seasons. If I were a fairy, this is definitely the place I would choose to live. Hmmm... It turns out, they aren't the only alates (winged beings) that love it here, the ones responsible for dropping their wings last night, are actually termites.
They are subterranean termites (Reticulitermes Virginicus) who earned their wings yesterday and were out and about looking for mates. Their subterranean nests are made of a sticky substance of decomposed organic matter of the jungle floor like leaves, wood, and dirt they chew up and mix with saliva or fecal matter and then deposited to make the walls and tunnels of the nests.
Their nests are kind of like the subway system of NYC - a complex web of tunnels and pockets with a lot of action. This network is teeming with thousands of moving termites whose busy work is critical to the health of not only of the population of termites, but also of the jungle especially when the rains stop.
Their tunnels create aeration systems that are undoubtedly the envy of all turf managers. Because of their hard work, the soil efficiently absorbs, drains, and stores water to provide moisture for all the trees and plants through the drier times of the year.
Let's talk action again. The termites that earn their wings are called the "reproductives." So, as one may guess, they are the flying lovers of the termite world. So romantic! The rest of the termites left behind to work and guard the nest are just that: the workers and the soldiers. Anyone thinking of the movie Top Gun right now? I digress. The swarming (nuptial flight) of the lovers generally occurs with high humidity hence right now being the beginning of rainy season. Attracted by the light of the night sky (or light pollution), they fly out of their nest by the thousands, land on the ground, drop their wings and mate. Then off they go to build their house and live happily ever after. Termites have a pretty bad rap and for good reason - they love to eat organic material like wood. So, in areas where, like most of nature, have lost their habitat, they find other places like beautiful homes to move into. In an area like ours, we have figured out how to live among them and we all make it work. They have their dance space and we have ours. On occasion, we get a termite trail that needs redirecting with some vinegar back to the jungle but it's very rare and it's best for both parties. VOC free for termites and us humans too. Good stuff. Thanks for enjoying yet another love story in the jungle. Did you know we are a great place for honeymoons! Just in case you want to recommend us to anyone. We hope to see you here soon or at least send us note, we'd love to hear from you.
Your Friends in Morrillo, Cari and Ryan Mackey Owners and Hosts Morrillo Beach Eco Resort