'Wimpy' drywood termites eavesdrop to avoid aggressive cousins

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Melbourne, Aug 27 (ANI): Drywood termites eavesdrop on their aggressive cousins to avoid contact, and keep themselves safe, finds a new study.

The research team led by CSIRO entomologist Dr Theodore Evans has found the drywood termite, Cryptotermes secundus can locate the deadly Coptotermes acinaciformis through the sound of the vibrations it makes while chewing.

Once the drywood termite realises Coptotermes is near they begin tunnelling away.

The researchers hope that the new finding can lead to development of chemical-free controls to stop termites attacking homes and buildings.

During the study, Evans and colleague Professor Joseph Lai, at the University of New South Wales' Australian Defence Force Academy School of engineering recorded the vibrations made when both species were chewing.

When given a choice of various pieces of wood, the drywood termite tunnelled away from the sounds of the Coptotermes, but towards their own species.

Evans says this response was increased if the wood block was smaller in size, indicating the drywood termite could tell the Coptotermes was nearer and therefore they were at greater risk.

He insists that more research is needed to understand how the drywood termite sense and processes the vibrations and on how widespread the ability is in other species.

The research may lead to chemical-free pest control for termites.

"Maybe we can manipulate the vibrations [and] play the right termite song under your house to scare them away," ABC Online quoted Evans as saying. (ANI)

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