The Termite Army
Every country of the world fears the possible outbreak of war and civil chaos. Nations continually produce new strategies and armaments to counter this threat and defend themselves, and departments of defense put aside significant amounts in their budgets for developing new weaponry.
There are similar defense efforts in the world of nature. All creatures that live in colonies have well-equipped armies, in which every soldier has a different function, and their defense strategies are highly intelligent. With the armies of social insects, their most notable characteristic is that every individual strives to do its duty to the point of putting its own life at risk.
Termites’ armies are composed of groups of many soldiers. Soldiers look much like worker termites; they are blind and wingless, with soft bodies a few centimeters in length. But despite their small physical size, they have some amazing techniques at their disposal.
Their only duty is to protect their colony. But to protect the nest, this tiny defense army exposes itself to all manner of dangers, to the point of sacrificing their own lives. And they do no’t care how large the enemy is. For example, when the nest is invaded by its biggest enemies, ants and anteaters, a “suicide squad” goes into action to remove the threat. Many termites will die in the course of the defense, and we will examine this self-sacrificial behavior among termites in a later chapter.
The bodies of soldier termites vary according to their species, but each has a physical design totally appropriate to their duties. For example, African termites have razor-sharp jaws; South American termites have a squarish head and a lower jaw longer than their whole body,which they use to kill their enemies. Some termites in Malaysia explode themselves like suicide bombers, drowning the aggressor in a dark yellow fluid. Worker termites of some species in Africa and South America protect the colonies in a different way. These workers squirt a fluid from their intestines at an enemy; as a result, their inner organs explode, and they die. 11
Soldiers of nearly all termite species have large, muscular jaws which they use to tear an enemy to pieces. The sizes of soldier termites’ jaws are roughly the same, but the shape of their heads varies according to species. These differences are sometimes quite striking. Certain soldiers have long heads, while those of other species are powerful and hard. The reason for this difference is the various fighting techniques among termites. For example, termites with long heads use them to squirt sticky fluid at an aggressor. 12 Termites with large heads use them as barriers to plug up holes in the nest and prevent enemies from entering. Their heads, resembling capsules, are much larger than the rest of their body. Though they may look awkward, they have a surprising ability to defend their nest.
Termites’ Battle Strategy
To ensure the colony’s survival, security is of the utmost importance. Besides using their sharp jaws to wound an enemy, termites normally use chemical weapons in their various strategies to paralyze an enemy, explode themselves on top of an enemy, and secreting a poison that affects an attacker’s physical structure.
Thanks to all these special features, termites have managed to survive for millions of years. But today’s chemical weapons experts have been able to produce these only after constant effort. Serious efforts are required to produce even the most basic chemical substance. In the light of this, we must answer the question of how the bodies of termites produce these chemical weapons. According to the theory of evolution, these chemical substances came into being spontaneously—that is, by chance. But even a little consideration will reveal how illogical this claim is.
The theory of evolution claims that termites did not originally have a chemical-production system in their bodies, but slowly developed it later as a result of random events. But as the examples in the following pages will show in detail, every aspect of these claims logically contradicts the others.
Indeed, for a termite’s chemical weapon system to function at all, both the chemical itself and the organ that produces it must have come into being at the same time. In addition, it’s vital that this organ has safeguards to keep the poison from spreading to other parts of the termite’s body. And because the way poison is used varies according to the species, there must sometimes be a channel or conduit immune to the poison leading to the termite’s head from the organ where it is produced. Besides this, there must be some muscular system or mechanism that lets the termite eject the poison at an enemy.
Evolutionists claim that organs and systems like these have come into being by chance. Random events allegedly produced whatever chemical formula was required and created a system to produce that chemical substance in the body of the first termite; later, other chance events occurred, producing substances that in turn produced chemical substances, one by one. The organs and other systems in the termite’s body developed immunity from the poison. In this way, one chance event followed after another for millions or even hundreds of millions of years, until termites finally emerged as we know them today.
Elaborating this fairytale scenario makes it clear just how illogical these evolutionist claims are. Chance events cannot create even the single cell of a living being, let alone a fully-formed creature. Chance would first have to create the cells of the creature, combine them and form them into organs. It would have to give each organ its special qualities and, in order that the species could continue to exist, would have to encode the information enabling these functions into the genes of the cells of each creature. Of course, this would be impossible.
Contrary to the evolutionists’ claim, termites did not arrive at their present form through a specific process over time. For example, if just one element of their chemical-weapons system did not function correctly, the entire system would not work properly, and the termite would be killed. So only one explanation remains: The termites’ chemical weapons system must have been created in its entirety, all at once. That is, they have possessed this system ever since they came into being.
But termites can do more than just produce chemical substances and use them as weapons; they also have unique feeding habits with an appropriate digestive system and the ability to establish chemical communication. In other words, their fine-tuned, highly sophisticated systems must have been created all at once. It is God, the Creator of every living thing in nature, Who has given termites their special characteristics. His power is infinite and He knows how to create every species.
Say: “Who is the Lord of the heavens and the Earth?” Say: “God.” Say: “So why have you taken protectors apart from Him who possess no power to help or harm themselves?” Say: “Are the blind and seeing equal? Or are darkness and light the same? Or have they assigned partners to God who create as He creates, so that all creating seems the same to them?” Say: “God is the Creator of everything. He is the One, the All-Conquering.” (Surat ar-Ra‘d:16)
Smearing Poison on Their Bodies
One stratagem that termites use in battle is to smear their bodies with poison. Some species synthesize a very strong poison that they store in their bodies without suffering any harm. The poisons produced by termites differ according to species, and the way each species uses it is also different.
For example, soldiers of the subfamily of Rhino-termitidae kill an aggressor by smearing its body with poison. This species has a shorter lower jaw and long upper jaw, with ends like a brush. This special mouth structure is quite effective in allowing the termite to smear the body of any aggressor. And since a soldier termite can store up to 35% of its body weight in poison, the amount it secretes can kill thousands of ants.13
Prorhinotermes also smears poison as a defensive strategy. This species of termite lives in Florida, and the jaws of the workers contain a poisonous substance called nitroalkene. Another species, the Schedorhinotermes, lives in Africa and produces a compound called vinyl ketone—a substance that when breathed or swallowed, causes death. When it comes into contact with the skin or the eyes, it causes severe irritation.14 Termites produce this most effective poison, causing a collapse of the central nervous system, and store it in their bodies without suffering any harm.
Termites in Guyana synthesize a very fast-acting substance called B-ketoaldehydes. The Armitermes produce a poison called molecular string and use substances called esters and lactones as chemical weapons. As you can see, the structures of each of these poisons has a different chemical formula.
However, one common feature of these poisons is that all are electrophylic—that is, they combine with the electron-rich biological molecules on the bodies of aggressors to cause fatal physical deterioration. For millions of years, termites have been producing these poisonous substances, many of which are unnamed and whose purposes are as yet not understood.
Termites are not more than a few centimeters in length. They are blind, live most of their life underground and have only a rudimentary brain. But they secrete from their bodies a substance designed to stop the functioning of the physical system of an aggressor. Is it possible to maintain that a termite created such a system by its own will? Imagine someone telling you a story like this:
“Long ago termites did not have these systems, but one day a termite decided to develop a method of defense against its enemies. The most logical thing to do was to find a method to destroy the enemy’s internal systems. Sometimes the enemies were bigger and stronger than the termite itself. Then it decided to produce poison in its own body, assuming that it would be much easier to subdue an enemy this way without expending much effort. It developed various formulas for the poison. To do this it collected the requisite substances in a special secretion gland in its body and began to produce the poison. But before this, it did not forget to develop a layer to the secretion gland to prevent itself from being harmed by the poison. It also gave itself immunity from the poison when it was expelled from its body...”
This scenario is so silly that even a child would not believe it. Termites cannot make decisions or perform chemical operations. But evolutionists’ claims are no different. They maintain that termites did not originally have these poison-producing systems, but produced it in their own bodies one day in response to a need. As a matter of fact, evolutionists claim that coincidences produced these systems. But neither a process of blind chance nor a tiny insect we call a termite can conceive, plan and put any system into effect. God is the Creator of heaven and Earth and everything in between; it is He Who endowed termites with their defense system.
Another Amazing Method of Defense
Macrotermites live in Africa where they build their nests in the shape of mounds. In this species, the soldiers defending the colony are females, infertile, and smaller than other termites in the nest. The somewhat larger protectors of the queen, king and larvae are responsible for preventing intruders from entering the inner chambers where these reside. These protectors were created for battle, with heads designed like shields and sword-sharp lower jaws. In large soldiers, 10% of their body weight is composed of internal secretions. These secretions are made up of long chains of carbon compounds such as alkanes and alkenes, and stored in large sacs in the front part of their bodies. Enemies attack these termites at their peril, because the cost of attacking the colony is more than just a few wounds from the soldiers’ sword-like lower jaws. The soldiers do not stop at that, but smear the open wounds with an oily chemical compound resembling paraffin composed of alkanes and alkenes.15 Even though the termites’ enemies often do not receive life-threatening wounds, scientists have noticed that they die shortly afterwards.
Researchers examining this interesting phenomenon have recognized an amazing fact: the intruders do not die because of the size of the wound they receive, but through loss of blood. The substance the termites secrete disables the intruders’ blood-clotting ability.
For example, ants have a fluid in their bodies called hemolymph that functions like blood. When wounded, their bodies produce a chemical substance that causes the hemolymph to solidify and the wound to heal. The termites’ poisonous secretion renders this chemical substance ineffective.16
It is certain evidence of creation that an insect between 1 and 2 cm (0.3 to 0.7 in) long knows the bodily secretions of another creature, is aware of a formula that will destroy the composition of those secretions and produces in its own body a substance with this formula. Without appropriate training, not even human beings can learn the essential elements of which the bodies of other creatures are composed and how to destroy those elements. First, they must be familiar with those creatures’ anatomical structure. But even this is not enough; they must gain even more knowledge in order to put into practice what they have already learned.
Of course, chemical materials must be produced with the help of technological instruments, under strict conditions, in special places and with expert assistance. However, termites produce these chemical substances in their bodies without any help at all.
There are many more aspects to these operations, but the facts are clear. A creature like a termite cannot discover chemical formulas or create such a system on its own; it is God Who has created termites. It is He Who inspires in them what they are to do and how they should do it. Like every other creature, termites act according to God’s inspiration. He reveals this truth in the following verse:
. . . There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock . . . . (Surah Hud: 56)
Termites That Spew Out Glue
Of the 2,000 species of termites, 500 live in tropical zones and among these, some have soldiers that spew out a sticky, gluey substance. There are two noticeable aspects here: First, some soldier termites produce chemical compounds in their bodies which turn into glue that when spat out, is strong enough to corrode metal and will penetrate mortar or low-grade concrete. But the termite produces and stores this very dangerous glue in its body without harm.
A second interesting point is how the termites squirt the glue from special passages on their foreheads called nasal channels. They spray the glue on their enemies, which causes the aggressor to lose consciousness briefly. Before the spray wears off, the termite takes advantage of this time to launch a second attack against the intruder, during which it either paralyzes or kills the enemy. 17
In order for this substance to be effective, it is important to hit the enemy. But like other termites, soldier termites are blind. So how can they hit their targets?
The termite’s system is totally fail-safe. The delivery channel and secretion glands of worker termites, together with their antennae, are very similar to heavy radar-guided weapons that can track a target, zero in on it and strike. Termites’ antennae function just like these devices. The termite soldiers know how to use them very well and never miss their targets.
Examining these chemical weapons’ molecular structure, we notice something else: In these remarkable chemical substances are carbon compounds. How have termites been able to discover the formula of these compounds? Who does the formula belong to? We suggest all these questions in order to make you wonder and think.
In order to produce such sophisticated weapons, several biochemists must work in the most modern laboratories. Some of them develop new formulas; others test these formulas in various experiments. As opposed to the endless work and expense that human beings go through, when the need arises to produce new chemical substances, termites can easily synthesize in their bodies these extremely complex compounds. In addition, they use these compounds expertly as weapons against their enemies. This is a cause for consideration. Any intelligent and aware person will understand that such complex creatures could not have come to be by chance.
How many Signs there are in the heavens and Earth! Yet they pass them by, turning away from them. Most of them do not believe in God without associating others with Him. (Surah Yusuf: 105-106)
Termite Suicide Squads
The soldiers of many termite species are willing to risk their lives to prevent harm coming to their colony. One of these is a very interesting species that lives in the Malaysian rain forests. These termites are bombs in motion anatomically and behaviorally. In their bodies they have a sac containing chemicals that render their enemies helpless. If one of these termites is seized by an invading ant or other creature, the muscles in its thorax contract strongly, tearing the secretion gland and drowning the aggressor in a dark yellow fluid.18
Another example of interesting battle tactics are some worker termites that live in South America. When these termites squirt intruders with a substance in their intestines, their internal organs are torn apart and they die.19
If nature is the arena of a life-and-death struggle, as evolutionists claim, in which every creature struggles to survive, why would an insect sacrifice itself?
Self-Sacrificing Termites Disprove the Theory of Evolution
This kind of self-sacrifice found in termites clearly refutes Charles Darwin’s claim that only the “stronger will survive.” The idea that weaker individuals are eliminated is one of evolution’s basic assumptions. The basis of this mechanism is that physically strong creatures survive to perpetuate subsequent, stronger generations while the others die off. In nature, according to this claim, creatures engage in a mortal struggle with one another, and the weaker are starved out or killed off by the stronger. The natural-selection mechanism posits that creatures are concerned only with their own personal food, shelter and security.
Even without considering other creatures, the self-sacrifice seen in termites is enough to refute this claim. If this evolutionists’ claim were true, there would be no cooperation or self-sacrifice among creatures; only conflict. But termites show that on the contrary, they are willing to risk their lives for other individuals in the colony.
Many creatures in nature put their individual lives in danger as they sacrifice themselves for other members of their group; sometimes they even display concern for creatures not of their own species.
John Maynard Smith, a noted evolutionist, sums up the disagreement among evolutionists about self-sacrificial behavior among species:
Here one of the key questions has to do with altruism: How is it that natural selection can favor patterns of behavior that apparently do not favor the survival of the individual? 20
In his book Evrim Kurami ve Bagnazlik (The Theory of Evolution and Bigotry) Dr. Cemal Yildirim, a noted Turkish proponent of evolution, writes that animal behavior cannot be explained by natural selection. He gives the example of a mother animal’s love for her babies:
Can a mother's love be explained by the blind process of natural selection, which has no spiritual aspects? For such questions, it's hardly possible for Darwinist biologists to give satisfactory answers. 21
There is only one explanation for how creatures without a reasoning mind can feel compassion and mercy and display self-sacrificial behavior and a species-protective instinct. It is God Who gives creatures these characteristics. In the Qur’an, He gives examples from the animal world and reveals that they act under His inspiration. Birds, butterflies, ants, tigers, elephants, whales, giraffes—in short, all living things in nature—act under His inspiration. Everything in the universe, both animate and inanimate, exists by His word. Everything we see around us shows us God’s infinite power and knowledge and proves that He has no partners in creating.
This is a plain fact that everyone with intelligence can understand. God reveals this truth in the following verse:
. . . The Lord of the East and the West and everything between them if you used your intellect. (Surat ash-Shu‘ara’:28)