Briefly about the termites
The mentioned insects live in tropical forests of French Guiana. Their food mainly consists of decaying wood. The workers’ cast is divided into blue and white workers, and today we’ll speak about the first group.
The peculiar qualities found by the scientistsThe Neocapritermes taracua’s special aspects were found when scientists wanted to catch one of them with tweezers, and the termite exploded at once. So the scientists have found that blue workers have explosive blue spots on the front part of their abdomens. As it was found later, these “backpacks” are made from protein which contains copper.
These backpacks are used when the insect is frightened. When a predator, a person, or another termite attacks, blue spots break and mix with the secretion of salivary glands. As a result, there’s a poison killing the enemies.
Age detailsAn interesting fact is that only old insects can explode themselves, said the scientists. They have examined the termites’ mandibles, the blunter they are – the older an insect is. So there’s a supposal that having poison is a way of getting rid of old members of a den as the protecting function should be held by the soldier cast, not workers. It seems like the exploding termites are sent for missions. Also, the scientists transplanted the backpacks onto the second group of workers, and they became more deadly.
Such things happened before, insects were found to have poison. But, usually, they were soldiers, and the poison wasn’t bicomponent.