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Did you know that ants are a major predator of termites? Not only that, but did you know that termites evolved super-sharp hearing and very light footsteps in order to avoid them? As crazy as it may sound, the footsteps of a termite are 100 times quieter than those of an ant. This allows termites to forage fractions of an inch away from ants and not trigger a reaction.

On top of that termites have highly accurate hearing, which allows them to avoid ants and other predators despite being blind. In order to test this ability, researchers placed ants and termites into a box that contained spaces separated by wooden walls. The termites burrowed through the walls of the spaces which had dead ants or no ants at all, and avoid the spaces which had ants or were playing audio of ants walking. Not only that, but termites reinforced the walls if they could hear ants on the other side.

This experiment went to show that termites detect ants through sounds, not pheromones, since pheromones cannot travel through wood.

Even more interesting, termites have their own alarm system which is based on creating sound vibration patterns similar to those of ant footsteps. They do this by shaking their heads and their bodies.

In certain species of termites this mechanism is advanced to the point where they cause so little sound when they walk that they go undetected by other termite species. Consequently, they use this to their advantage by stealing food from other colonies.

Of course, this alarm system has its flaws, mainly that it could be used by humans to flush out a nest for pest control purposes. All you would have to do is create a system that sends vibrations through wood in the patterns of ant species that prey on that particular species of termites.

Termites have a plethora of other adaptations to protect themselves against ants. For example, termites have hard bodies, which the ants cannot really break down to eat. However the ant larvae are capable of digesting the tough termite shell, which then allows the workers and other members of the hive to consume the termite. Termites will also build choke points in their nests by building tubes thin enough so that ants can’t pass through them.

Besides being a nutritious food source for the ants, the termites will often inhabit the same space, such as a rotting tree trunk. This creates competition between the two species. These ant predators are also partly the reason why you have termite soldiers that grow very large mandibles capable of crushing ants in order to defend the colony. And ants do pose an existential threat to a termite colony as they try to completely eliminate the colony when they go on the offensive.

However, ants are not an effective form of pest control against termites. It is not a good idea to leave an ant infestation thrive in your home in order to get rid of your termite infestation. The best course of action is to call an exterminator right away.