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IMBERBE #12: VIRTUAL BUSHWALK (QM)

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Dotty
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Unread postby Dotty » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:05 pm

Did I read somewhere there are several "things" that live in and depend on the mound?
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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:24 am

:D

Yes indeed, a termite mound can become home to a wide variety of creatures. Often it starts with an Aardvark attacking the mound, in search of food. They are powerful diggers, and can excavate a big hole in a short time. Though they sometimes use these holes themselves, most often they will just move on after feeding.

Other animals often use these holes as shelters. You can find anything from hyena to warthog, jackal to banded mongoose exploiting these holes. They will even do secondary digging, to make the den more suitable to their needs.

In some types of termite mounds you can find a chimney, which is used to help controle temperature. Snakes often use these holes to gain entry. Many snakes use termite mounds as a refuge, especially during the winter months. The termite mound offers a stable environment, with mild temperatures, to escape the winter chill. It is also the ideal place to lay their eggs.
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Unread postby ecojunkie » Sun Apr 13, 2008 6:12 am

And I remember being told that they are like icebergs - a lot more below the ground than above ground. So a big mound can be very old indeed.
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Unread postby Anthony » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:05 pm

I know a very interesting thing about how you can tell direction from a termite mound. The top of a termite mound that does not receive any shade during the day, will lean to the north, because of how the northern side of the mound dries faster than the southern side after rain, as in the southern hemisphere, the sun passes through the northern part of our sky. So the northern side of the mound that dries faster, gets eroded and crumbles, giving the appearance that the mound is leaning towards the north.
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Unread postby Spotted Cat » Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:43 pm

Interesting facts, thanks for sharing - each walk brings new perspective to those things that look so insignificant. Just shows, everything in nature has a role to play and nothing goes to waste.
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Unread postby RosemaryH » Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:14 pm

Hey Imberbe, while you have been ignoring us out here on this walk of late :lol: :lol: We saw this little critter and couldn't find it in any of our books. Was wondering if you had any ideas...no pressure, when you ready to catch up on the walk again :lol: :lol:

Image
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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:58 pm

:lol: You guys have tired me with the fast tempo of this walk, but do not worry, new adventures lie ahead! :wink:

It is a type of Mantid. I do not know this ones specific name. There are some 183 species of Mantid in our region and 1800 world wide. They are all predatory animals. They have modified front legs which is used to grab their, mostly insect, prey. Their triangular head is held in a "praying posture", from there the common name Praying Mantid.

Their eggs are laid inside a froth, which hardens to form a safe foam like egg-case. Nymphs looks quite different from the adults, resembling ants.
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RosemaryH
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Unread postby RosemaryH » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:46 pm

I was sure of it being of that species but the colours confused the figs out of me, always thought they only came in green or brown. Interesting little guy. :shock:
Thanks for the info and looking forward to the adventures ahead. Will let you rest a while then.
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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:50 pm

Yes, green, brown and some other shapes and colours:

Image

and

Image

Image


:wink:
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Anthony
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Unread postby Anthony » Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:14 am

wow, the second one's colours are crazy! Iv never seen anything like that before!
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Dotty
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Unread postby Dotty » Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:53 am

Oh WOW the camouflage on the first one is amazing and the second well !?!?!?!?!looks like an easter bonnet :lol:
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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sat Apr 26, 2008 12:23 am

Nature is incredible in its richness and art! I always stand amazed! That is why it is my personal view that there has to be more to nature than just pure coincidence ...

Getting back to our termite mound and its Thief ants. Yes, there is much to be found when looking at a termite mound. But lets start with its creators! The termites ...

These are truly wonderful creatures.

Firstly, they are not ants! They are not even closely related to ants. They are a totally different species. In fact, they are closer relations to cockroaches than to ants.

Meet our friends the termites:

Image

There are lots of different types of termites, each with their own interesting peculiarities.

Termites are said to be the species with the oldest and one of the most developed social structures in the world. They have developed different classes. Some termites develop as workers, and will stay workers for their whole lives. Others become soldiers, and their bodies are adapted to their life long calling. Others become queens which are responsible for all the procreation in her colony. Others are kings, responsible to fertilise the queen. The whole colony is inter-dependant on each other. Each has a role to play to make the colony work, and they cannot survive without the others. It has been said that the colony is the actual organism, and the individual termites are actually just parts of the organism.

Just in this paragraph there lies hidden so many interesting facts! We will spend more time on these later ...

Here already lies one of the differences with ants. In ants all the workers and soldiers are female, though they are sterile. In termites, workers and soldiers can be either male or female, but they are also sterile.
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Spotted Cat
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Unread postby Spotted Cat » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:42 pm

I'm just back from Kruger :) ... love the camouflage of the Mantids. So easy to overlook them!! The 'leavy' one will definitely fool me!
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Candy's Style
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Unread postby Candy's Style » Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:00 pm

The mantids camouflage is just amazing... I've read about them in books but to actually see a photo of them, WOW!
Imberbe wrote:....
Here already lies one of the differences with ants. In ants all the workers and soldiers are female, though they are sterile. In termites, workers and soldiers can be either male or female, but they are also sterile.


I honestly did not know that the workers and soldier ants consisted just of females... Girl Power! :tongue: :redface:

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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Fri May 09, 2008 11:57 pm

The mound we see is actually just the "tip of the ice berg." Indeed some species of termite do not make a mound. The specific mound can indeed sometimes be used as an indicator of the species of termite involved.

Termites are most often seen as grass eaters. It has been found by scientists that in some areas the termites remove more plant material from the veld than all the other herbivores combined. This does not mean that the termites must be seen as an enemy to people such as farmers!

The termites most often remove dead plant material, and so enable plants to re grow when the appropriate season comes around. Unusable dead material is removed and re-cycled. In this process termites enrich the earth around their mounds, making these areas biological hot spots.

Very often highly nutritious grasses can be found around such a mound, and animals tend to congregate here for feeding. Indeed, some trees are know to grow on termite mounds in areas where they will not be found otherwise.
Last edited by Imberbe on Sun May 11, 2008 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit www.sanparksvolunteers.org


One positive deed is worth more than a thousand critical words.


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