Among the hundreds of thousands of insect species found on Earth, termites could hardly be considered the most endearing of bugs. Extremely destructive to homes, structures, and crops, termites cost billions of dollars' worth of damage each year in the USA alone.
But despite their well-known ability to wreak havoc and create thousands of dollars' worth of damage to your personal property, there is probably a side to these small destructive creatures that you have never heard about. Did you know that one particular colony of these insects is credited with discovering one of the richest mining areas in the world? In fact, the bling in your jewelry may have been discovered thanks to the lowly termite.
The southern African country of Botswana boasts the biggest and richest diamond mine in the world. Known as Jwaneng Mine, the diamond rich area was reportedly discovered when termites, in search of water to keep their mound moist, brought diamond particles to the surface. Opened in 1982 by His Excellency Sir Ketumile Masire, who was the president of Botswana at that time, the mine produces up to an estimated 15 million carats a year.
From the diamonds in Africa to gold in Australia, termite mounds have been analyzed for precious metals, stones, or minerals. As the insects burrow underground, they bring materials to the surface, depositing the excess in a mound. A test in Australia found that termite mounds located near gold deposits contain a higher concentration of gold, indicating a richer vein below the surface.
Termites hold promise as tiny new gold prospectors, not only saving mining companies time, but also saving great expense with needless mining by locating gold and mineral deposits well below the Australian landscape – gold that could someday make its way into the jewelry that you wear.
- Other semi-precious metals
In addition to the more precious gems and metals reportedly discovered by termites, the tiny insects have also brought less precious metals to the surface. In Ethiopia, studies of termite mounds indicate the presence of copper and silver among several other semi-precious metals and minerals.
In the USA, termites tend to wreak destruction on personal property rather than build gold or diamond studded mounds. While you will certainly want to get any indications of termite infestation on your property checked by a certified pest control company like Metro Exterminating and have any damage repaired immediately, the next time you glance down and see gold and diamonds sparkling on your hand, just remember that the American termite's African or Australian cousin may have helped put them there.