Virgin Island Termites

Saturday was spent decompressing from our travels. It was full of unpacking, laundry and looking at our photos from the trip. In this department our haul was pretty good. Good enough anyway to stoke this blog and keep it fed, at least until our next wanderings. Some of these pictures, we hadn’t even seen before, because we traveled sans laptop, trying to keep it light.

Today’s post is all about termites. On the islands, termites live in trees and not in the ground. I suspect that this is done for the same reason that on the islands, people are buried in above ground crypts like in New Orleans. Not for the same reason as in Louisiana, because the land is only just above the water table, but because below the relatively thin layer of topsoil, it is all very hard volcanic rock. Even the local trees have adapted to this condition. Instead of the normal taproot, some trees grow flying buttress like structures to steady their trunks.

Anyway, back to the termites. Pictured, at about a three-foot diameter, is a relatively small termite nest. Other colonies that we saw were easily ten feet across. Like mainland termites, the island’s termites are still sunlight adverse. So, in order to commute between their nest in the trees and the ground below, they build covered trails down the side of the tree trunks. The ranger scraped a hole in one of these trails and hundreds of termites boiled out of it. He said that they would repair their damaged trail in less than an hour. The population of one of these communities is numbered in the millions. One might think that because of their color, the nest and the trails are made of mud, but in fact, it is termite barf. Eew! More accurately, it is regurgitated wood pulp. Still, eew!

Saturday night, we had Joanie over for dinner. I made Tikka Masala. We wanted to thank her for keeping an eye on the house and Anne and her had tickets to a dance concert. Turns out that she, like Anne, is going to be an election official at next month’s presidential primary. Too bad they couldn’t snag the same polling place. They would have had such fun, knitting together all day. Maybe in the Fall, but I expect that that election will be too busy for doing much knitting.

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