This is a deserted termite nest I came across in Bangalore. These busy creatures are disliked acutely by householders, but in actual fact, they are detritivores that attack a tree or plant only when it is already on its way out. A sort of Yamraj in insects, therefore. And naturally the furniture in your home is viewed as so much deadwood by them. Also, not all termites eat wood. Many species feed on grass and other matter. The interesting thing about their nests is the high amount of humidity they consider indispensable to life. They create oases of moisture and keep desertification at bay. At some point, winged reproductive termites leave their original nest and take a flight to make new colonies. Have you seen termites flying? It’s an unforgettable sight, evoking a shade lesser wonder and fear only to a locust raid upon fields.
Lina Krishnan is an abstract artist, poet and photographer in Pondicherry. She has a chapbook of nature verse, Small Places, Open Spaces, with Australian poet Valli Poole.
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