Nobody likes termites. They get into the wood in our homes and can lead to infuriating and expensive repairs. What's to like?
It turns out, there's a lot to like termites. Scientists study how they build their mounds for clues to solving some of the world's most pressing problems, like mitigating the effects of drought, building colonies on Mars, and creating biofuels.
Plus, their ability to adapt to the harshest conditions over millions of years says a lot about them. Almost 90% of the microbes found in their guts are unique to the termite. Those same gut microbes are what make them so productive and, on the flip side, so destructive.
Lastly, some believe termites work with joy and have a soul. You be the judge.
- Jennifer Dacey - An entomologist and a wildlife biologist and integrated pest management technician in the UConn Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
- Lisa Margonelli - Author of Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology
- Mick Pearce - An architect
Colin McEnroe and Jonathan McNicol contributed to this show, which originally aired August 29, 2018.