Termites Use Poop to Fight Biological Warfare

The Formosan subterranean termite (<em>Coptotermes formosanus</em>), which is responsible for most of the economic damage termites inflict.
The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus), which is responsible for most of the economic damage termites inflict.
Credit: T. Chouvenc, Univ. of Florida.

Termites may use their own poop as a source of natural antibiotics, researchers say.

These findings might help explain why human attempts to kill them using biological warfare have failed over the past 50 years, scientists added.

The amount of damage termites inflict economically may exceed $40 billion worldwide. Over the past half-century, more than 125 research teams in more than 35 countries have tried to develop fungi and bacteria to fight termites as environmentally friendly and effective ways to control the pests. However, these attempts have repeatedly failed, since termites have evolved a range of defense mechanisms that help protect them against such diseases.

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