The Termite Colony and its Chemical Defensive Systems
The queen termite becomes extremely immobile as her body reaches 3.5 inches (9 centimetres) in length. Therefore, a special crew is responsible for her feeding, cleaning and safeguarding.
Termites are small, ant-like creatures that live in crowded colonies. They build surprising nests that tower above the ground, which are in themselves wonders of architecture. What's even more interesting is the fact that the builders of such grandiose towers, the worker termites, are totally blind.
The structure of the termite nest demonstrates extraordinarily complex systems. There are special soldier units in the termite colonies that are responsible for defence. Soldier termites are equipped with wonderful artillery. While some are warriors, some are patrolling termites and yet others are "suicide commandos". From the incubation of the queen to the construction of tunnels and walls or the harvesting of the cultivated mushrooms, every affair inside a termite nest depends on the performance in defence of the soldiers.
The survival of the colony is dependent upon the existence of the king and queen who engage in reproduction. The queen starts expanding after the first fertilisation. Its length can reach up to 3.5 inches (9 centimetres), and it looks exactly like a reproductive machine. It cannot move around easily. Since she does not do anything other than lying eggs, there is a special crew only to take care of her by feeding and cleaning her. She lays about thirty thousand eggs in a day, which means close to ten million eggs in her lifetime.
Termites start building their nests at ground level. As the population of the colony expands, in time the termite nest is enlarged accordingly. Its height can reach up to 13-16 feet (4-5 metres).
Being barren, the worker termites take care of housekeeping in the colony. Their lifespan ranges from two to four years. A certain group constructs and maintains the termite nest. Another group watches over the eggs, the newborn termites and the queen.
All members of the termite colony live together in organised communities. The members of these communities communicate through senses such as smell and taste, where chemical signals are exchanged. These deaf, dumb and blind creatures perform and co-ordinate such complicated duties as, building, hunting, stalking, security alerts and defence manoeuvres, by means of chemical signals.
The worst enemies of the termite colonies are ants and anteaters. When a colony comes under attack by one of these predators, a special suicide arm is launched. African termites are excellent warriors equipped with razor-sharp teeth. They tear the attacker's bodies into pieces.
The only connection of a termite nest to the world outside is through tunnels that are the size of a single termite. Passing through any one of these tunnels requires "permission". The "guard" soldier termites at the door easily detect if the intruders are in fact residents of the colony from their smells. The head of a single termite can also work as a cap for any one of these tunnels, which are exactly same size. In case of attack, termites actually use their heads to close off these holes by entering backwards and becoming stuck in these doorways.
In the construction of the termite nest, there are supplementary systems such as air-conditioners, humidifiers and ventilators. Furthermore, for the different parts of the nest, different temperatures are set and maintained. The teæmperature and carbon dioxide content of circulating air vary depending on location within the termite nest:40
A: 86oF (30oC) – 2.7% CO2
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The Sacrifice of Termites
Termites conduct extremely organised battles against their worst enemies, the ants and ant-eating animals. They are so determined in their defences that even the blind workers throw themselves on the intruders in order to help the soldiers to overcome the enemy. Above, the picture shows workers dedicated to helping soldiers with distinctly large heads.
Another one of the methods of defence that termites often use is to willingly sacrifice their lives in order to secure the colony and harm the enemy. Various species of termites achieve these suicide attacks in different ways, e.g. a certain species living in the rainforests of Malaysia is particularly interesting. These termites are like "walking bombs" due to their anatomy and behaviour. A special sac within their bodies holds a chemical compound that renders their enemies ineffective. In case of attack, when squeezed harshly by an ant or any other intruder the termite contracts its stomach muscles and raptures the lymph tissues, which saturates the predator with a thick, yellow-coloured fluid. Worker termites in Africa and South America utilise a similar method. This is exactly a suicide attack since the internal organs of the creature are fatally damaged and the creature dies shortly thereafter.
If the offensive attack is very strong, then even the workers enter the battle in order to help the soldiers.
Termites' teamwork and such sacrifice destroys the fundamental assertion of Darwinism that "every creature lives for its own interest". Furthermore, these examples show these creatures to be organised in a very amazing way. For instance, why should a termite want to be a guardian? If it had an option, why would it choose to have the heaviest and most self-sacrificing job? If, in fact, it could choose, it would have chosen the easiest and least demanding duty. Even if we assume that it decides to sacrifice itself in defence, then it is still impossible for it to pass this behaviour down to succeeding generations through its genes. We know that worker termites are barren and are not able to produce any descendent generations.
Only the Creator of termites could have designed such a perfect colony life and given constituent termite groups distinct responsibilities. Guardian termites, too, diligently execute the duty that Allah inspires in them.
The Qur'an states:
…There is no creature Allah does not hold by the forelock… (Surah Hud: 56)
Systems Preventing Coagulation
A termite defends its colony even at the price of its own life. In the picture is a termite spraying adhesive fluid on an attacking ant.
Termites utilise special systems created in their bodies in implementing inborn defensive and instinctive sacrifices. For instance, some termites spray poisonous chemicals into the scars inflicted as a result of bites. Some apply an interesting "brushing" technique; they paste the poison onto the offender's body by using the upper lip like a brush. Some termites apply an infectious adhesive onto the attacker by a "spraying" method.
Defence of the termite nest is the responsibility of a group of females in a species of African termite. These females are barren and relatively smaller soldiers. Royal guardians, which are much larger in size, safeguard the young larvae and the royal couple by preventing any intruders from entering the royal cell. Smaller soldiers help the workers in food gathering and repair of the nest.
The royal guards have been created for battle; they have shield-like heads and razor-sharp mandibles designed for defence. 10% of the body weight of the large soldiers is comprised of special fluids. These fluids are composed of open-chain hydrocarbons (alkenes and alkanes) and are stored inside sacs located to the front of their bodies. Royal guards inject these chemical fluids into wounds inflicted on enemies by means of their lower jaws.
What exactly do these fluids applied to enemies do? Researchers encountered a very astounding fact in answering this question. The fluids applied by the termites act to prevent the enemies' blood from clotting. In the bodies of ants there is a fluid called "haemolymph" which acts as blood. When there is an open wound in the body, another chemical starts coagulation and enables the wound to heal. The chemical fluid from termites renders this clot-forming chemical useless.
The presence of a coagulation system inside the body of a minute insect like the ant is another testimony to the creation. It is simply miraculous not only that termites produce a fluid that can neutralise this system but also have organs that can deliver the fluid effectively. Certainly, a perfect harmony such as this cannot possibly be explained through coincidence in any way. Termites are surely not chemists, who understand the details of the coagulation system in ants or synthesise a compound formula to neutralise this system. This flawless design is without a doubt another clear evidence that these creatures have been created by Allah.
Weapons of Termites
A soldier termite patrols in front of the termite nests. These termites spray a certain infectious and adhesive fluid, which is a type of chemical weapon.
One can find many other similar examples of flawless design in the world of termites. The soldier termites of a termite family kill their enemies by rubbing poison onto their bodies. In order to accomplish this more effectively, they are given smaller mandibles and brush-like upper lips. These soldiers can also synthesise and store insecticide chemicals. A typical soldier can store defensive fluids that comprise up to 35% of its body weight, which is enough to kill thousands of ants.
Florida resident Prorhinotermes are created possessing a poison rubbing technique. They make use of chemicals called "nitroalkane" as poisons. Many other termites also use methods involving the application of poisons, but the amazing point is the different chemical structures of all these poisons. For instance, an African Schedorhinotermes utilise "vinyl ketones". Guyanan termites have "B-ketoaldehydes" and Armitermes termites have a "molecular string" as poison and chemicals called "esters" or "lactones" as their weapons. All of these poisons immediately react with biological molecules and cause death.
According to the theory of evolution, one has to accept the assumption that "primitive termites" had no chemical production systems in their bodies and that it somehow formed later as a result of a series of coincidences. However, such an assumption is totally illogical. For the poisoning system to work properly, not only the chemical itself but also the organs to handle these chemicals need to be totally functional. Furthermore, these organs have to be adequately isolated so that no poison spreads within the body. The dispensing organ has to be properly formed and isolated as well. The spraying pipe further requires a mechanical system that is powered by a separate muscle.
All these organs could not possibly have formed in a process of evolution over time since the lack of a single component would render the whole system useless causing the extinction of the termite. Therefore, the only logical explanation would be: the "chemical weapon system" has been created altogether in the same moment. Just like all the other creatures in the nature termites have been created in a moment. Allah, Lord of the Worlds, fabricated the poison production centre in their bodies and inspired in them the best way to utilise their faculties. This is mentioned in a verse as follows:
He is Allah - the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr: 24)-
40. The Guinness Concise, Encyclopaedia, London, Guinness Publishing Ltd., 1993, P. 125.
41. Bilim Ve Teknik Görsel Bilim Ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi (Encyclopedia of Science and Technology), P. 291.