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The Unusually Abundant Amount Of Feces Produced By This Termite Species Can Be A Slipping Hazard To Humans

January 18th, 2019

In the United States, and most other countries in the world, subterranean termites inflict far more damage to manmade structures than both drywood and dampwood termite species. But one particular drywood termite species, Cryptotermes brevis, is the most frequently introduced termite species in the world. In other words, no other termite species has traveled to as many foreign lands as C. brevis, or the west Indian drywood termite, as the species is more commonly known. This species was first described as a pest to structural lumber in Jamaica during the mid 19th century. Since this species is only known for infesting structures and individual pieces of lumber, researchers are unsure as to where exactly this species originated, but it likely hails from the tropical regions of South America. Since this species has only been found in structural lumber, its widespread distribution is solely due to lumber transport. This species can be found on every continent on earth, except for Antarctica, but they have been found infesting structures as far north as Canada and as far south as southern South Africa, where it is still widespread. Like many drywood termite species, infestations can be spotted by locating their feces, or frass. This is especially the case when it comes to C. brevis, as these termites are known for producing unusually large quantities of feces. In fact, the feces expelled by this species are so prodigious, that they can pose a slipping hazard to humans.

brevis termites are unique in that they have a taste for a large variety of different types of wood and other cellulose-containing materials. These termites have been found infesting museum displays, books, toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, packaged playing cards and cigar boxes, just to name a few. These termites create “kick-out” holes within the wood they infest in order to discard the large quantities of feces that they produce. The materials consumed by these termites are not thoroughly digested, therefore, their feces can be of many different colors depending on which materials they consume. It is for this reason that C. brevis feces do not degrade as rapidly as the feces expelled by other termite species. Because of these factors, C. brevis feces can collect in large quantities in one area where they remain for long periods of time. This makes their feces not only a sanitary nuisance, but also a slipping hazard when the feces are discarded onto smooth floors.

Have you ever noticed the peculiar geometric and/or colorful feces expelled by termites?

 

 

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