A nice, juicy termite may not sound like the ideal snack food, but for some creatures that is exactly what’s on the menu.
Termites are often found in drier climates, and are a vital food source for a variety of animals and other insects. They are high in fats and proteins, and as a bonus, they contain a lot of water. This makes them a quintessential food for animals in areas that lack other sources of nutrition and moisture.
Because termite colonies exist year-round, they offer the perfect pit stop for animals in places like Australia, where the climate can be harsh and make other food options scarce.
So what eats termites?
The answer may surprise you. Termite swarms – comprised of winged reproductive alates in flight toward new territory – often fall prey to winged animals. This includes bats, swallows, certain species of owl and even grain-eating birds like the dove. Some birds only eat termites in flight. Other species follow them to the ground, consuming them there as well. In areas where large numbers of alates have landed, these birds find a ready supply of food. Alates break off their wings as soon as they touch ground, making them the perfect, crawling targets.
Once grounded, a termite also becomes a treat for small animals, including certain types of mongooses, aardvarks and anteaters. They are also sought out as a meal by other small mammals, some reptiles and certain species of spiders and ants.
In addition to being easy prey, termites are consumed by the indigenous people of some countries, such as the Aboriginal people of Australia. Many of these groups also use termites in medicinal treatments and as a dietary supplement. Moreover, the termite mound offers a strong heat source when burned due to the cellulose stored inside.
Regardless of what eats termites, you do not want these pests in or near your home. If you suspect you have a termite problem, call Terminix® for a free inspection.