Why you should visit the Termite Mounds of Litchfield

Why you should visit the Termite Mounds of Litchfield

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 05/17/2019

Reading time: 2 mins

Nestled in the grass fields of Litchfield National Park are the incredible termite mounds.

They are the natural sky-scrapers of the world, standing tall in the dry desert land of Litchfield. It’s no wonder that these termites are named the architectures of the animal kingdom, with the large dirt mounds being imposing, spectacular, and of course intriguing to all that see them.

About the Termites

Although these insects look similar to ants, they are in a completely different species group. They are social creatures, building their homes together to hold hundreds upon thousands of termites together. Their non-reproductive forms never develop wings, are completely blind, and have very thin skin which leads to them drying out often. In comparison, the King and Queen, which are the reproductive forms of termites, have wings, one pair of compound eyes, and thicker skin. The reproductive system is different from ants, with instead of one queen with multiple males, it is many queens in each mound paired with kings in a monogamous pairing. The non-reproductive creatures are soldiers and workers, which help in protecting and building their home.

How do they make these mounds?

The mounds are built by the workers of the colony, built from soil brought from beneath the ground. The soil is cemented together to form strong dirt with the insects’ saliva and excreta. They are tall, thin, wedge-shaped structures with the longer axis orientated from north to south.

Why do they build these mounds?

It is to put it simply; mounds are the termite’s home. However, the reason why these mounds line up so perfectly with each other is a puzzlement. Scientists believe the shape of the mounds might be to promote a quicker dry during nest construction. Others suggest the long shape of the mounds was a way to avoid winds. However, the most likely theory is due to the termites avoiding the temperature induced by the strong tropical sun. As the termites are not able to retreat underground due to Northern Australia’s heavy monsoonal rains.

How to see them

The sky-scrapers of Litchfield National Park are easy to get to, only a drive away from Darwin. Set off for the day and see these marvellous creations. Measuring them and checking out the ones that are longer than even your tallest friend.

Related article: What are the natural wonders of Litchfield National Park?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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