A variety of different types of termites are located all over the world. Some termites are more destructive to man made property than others. There are only a few termites located in the US that will damage homes. However, some termites can create mounds that are fascinating to look at. In fact, people from all over the world travel to Brazil in order to visit a national park where sizable termite mounds become illuminated at night. The Emas National Park is a Unesco Heritage Site where, during the dark of night, termite mounds resemble Christmas trees decorated with lights.
Glowing termite mounds are certainly not a common site for most people in the world. Since these glowing mounds are termite nests, then one would think that termites are responsible for this naturally conspicuous display. However, termites may have little to do with the glow of these popular termite mounds; instead another type of insect may be behind the beauty of these nests.
The glowing termite mounds of Emas National Park can become as large as thirty meters in diameter, and seven meters in height, or even taller. Of course, these termite nests are home to millions of termites, but other insects, such as beetle larvae also invade these unique nests. Insects are not the only animals to create nests out of portions of these termite mounds. For example, the Buff-Breasted Paradise-Kingfisher is a type of bird that is often found making nesting sites within these mounds. But, when it comes to the mound’s well-known glow, a type of beetle known as Pyrophorus nyctophanus, or headlight beetle, is responsible.
These glowing adult beetles will plant their eggs within these termite nests. Hundreds of beetle eggs will hatch, and the larvae will glow, which creates the unique look of these termite mounds. Unfortunately for the termites, these beetle larvae are specialized to consume termites. The beetle larvae seem to know when the termites migrate out of their nests. This makes it easy for the glowing larvae to consume unsuspecting termites at the surface of the termite mounds. The glow of these termite mounds are easiest to see during the summer months in both the savannahs and jungles of the Emas National Park.
Have you ever stumbled across a termite mound while outside of the United States? Have you ever had an opportunity to compare termite mounds in the US with mounds in other countries?