The Beauty and Brilliance of Termite Mound Architecture

Darwin Termite MoundPhoto: daniel2177A Cathedral termite mound in Northern Australia.

Australia has one of the most diverse range of termite mounds in the world. Even more amazingly, three quarters of Australian termite species live totally unseen, either living in trees or hiding underground.

Magnetic Termite MoundsPhoto: librarianidolThe tombstone-like Magnetic termite mounds in Litchfield National Park, Australia.

The shape of these mounds is evidence of the termites’ adept climate control, exposing the least possible surface area to Northern Australia’s blistering sun at any one time.

Termite mounds can grow up to 25ft tall. In order for a human to build a comparative structure it would need to be 4,600ft tall.

White termite moundPhoto: amanderson2A termite mound in Laka Manyara National Park, Tanzania.

Termite mounds vary in size and shape due to environmental factors like soil and climate. All of them, however, include some kind of in-built climate control which is affected by their shape.

Wave Shaped Termite MoundPhoto: Joachim HuberTermite mound in the Etosha National Park, Namibia

Scientists are studying the mound’s system of temperature control, recycling and structure in order apply them to emerging green technologies.

Honolulu Termite MoundsPhoto: cliff1066™Termite mounds in Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii

Ancient African civilizations used mounds to locate gold deposits. Termites would drag up various minerals from the soil beneath them as they built, giving an indication of the riches that lay buried beneath.

Mushroom shaped termite moundPhoto: Paul MannixTermite mound in the Kakadu National Park, Australia

Termites play a particularly important role in Northern Australia, breaking down vegetation in amounts equivalent to some large mammals in other countries.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6