It might be tough for me to sell you an inch-thick cross-section of Douglas Fir for $125. But if I encased it in acrylic and placed a live colony of termites in there, maybe you’d give it a second look.
That’s the hope of the folks behind the Termitat, a desktop termite habitat that’s a twist on the ho-hum ant colony. Twenty of these little bastards will go to town on that Doug Fir, spending three years or more munching it into their new nest while you watch. All you have to do is add water every once in a while. And once they get through all of the wood, you can ship it back to get a new piece of wood installed “and even a new colony if needed.”
The termites can’t get out, and even if they could, they’d leave your house alone; these are dampwood termites, and it’s the drywood termites that destroy foundations and lives.
Not only do you get to watch the termites devour wood, but you can also watch them commit class warfare and murder/cannibalism. To explain:
Termitats are set up using a small group of worker termites and possibly a soldier (if one is available in the original larger supply colony). Soldiers are dependent on workers for their food; they are unable to obtain their own cellulose meals due to their jaws being suitable solely for defense of the colony. Usually a new colony in the wild will only begin to produce soldiers after the colony achieves sufficient numbers to be able to feed extra mouths. Even in a mature wild colony, there will only be about 5 soldiers for every 100 workers.
In a small starter Termitat colony that has a soldier included, it is common for the colony to consume the soldier and therefore save the colony’s energy. Soldier production may be deferred to a later date. The colony will consume the protein packed body of the soldier (nothing is wasted!) and place the inedible jaws and head in an area used for the colony’s debris. If this is the case with your colony, be patient, as a new soldier will appear in due time as your colony builds up its population.
There are two models of Termitat, both with 9″ diameters. The $125 Tripod model is 11″ tall, while the $150 Tower model is 14″ tall.
Our idea for a future product expansion, influenced by our New York City roots: The Cockroachitat.