Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science have crowned the mound building termite the “top engineer of the natural world”, after a study revealed the supremacy of their building techniques.
Scientists have already discovered that termites build mounds in a unique way involving “bio-cementation”, where grains of soil are fused into balls with moisture, saliva and excrement. The balls are then used like bricks to construct mounds.
The new research, published in the ICE’s Environmental Geotechnics journal, shows that this process makes the mounds 10 times stronger than structures made of unmodified materials.
Experiments also revealed that the termites choose finer grains with the best engineering properties when given a choice of foreign materials to build with. They also adjust the amount of moisture used to cement the balls, according to the material used.
“This study will hopefully provide further insight into the effectiveness of the bio-cementation process for a range of structures,” said the research paper’s author Ramesh Kandasami.