Scottsdale Termite Professionals

A new study is shedding light on how termites know what direction to move in when the colony is being attacked by a predator – and it’s all linked to vibrations.

The Study

A new study performed by two biologists at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, questioned just how termites know which way to go when the colony is being attacked. For the experiment, they placed soldier termites on a plastic platform. The platform had a dime-sized gap in the middle. The biologists then placed a termite over the gap – so that its right leg was on one side of the gap, and the left leg was on the other. They then triggered a vibration that shook one side of the platform before the other. The termites then ran towards whichever side they felt the vibration on first. Repeats of this experiment showed that the delay from the one leg to the other lasted only .20 millisecond in order for the termite to determine which way to run. That’s a tiny fraction of the length of an eye-blink!

Similar to Termites in the Wild

The vibration the biologists used was similar to what termites would experience in nature. To sound a warning to alert other termites, soldier termites smack their heads against the floors of the colony’s tunnels. This sends vibrations down the tunnels at about 430 feet per second. Other termites pick up the signal, and proceed to bang their heads, too, thus relaying the warning throughout the rest of the colony. This signals worker termites to head deeper into the colony, and soldier termites to head out of the colony to do battle.


Termites sense the vibrations with all six of their legs – but they sense it first in the leg that’s nearest the vibration. The split second delay they feel between one leg to the other tells them which direction to turn – depending on their role in the colony.

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Termite Control Scottsdale
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Scottsdale AZ 85251
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