This enormous mound in northern Australia houses a termite colony. It is made of chewed up vegetable pulp mixed with earth and cemented together to form a hard protective home for the termites. Inside they live within a maze of air conditioned tunnels for they are able to regulate the temperature and humidity inside the mound. Termites are social insects. This means that within the colony there are various types of termite, each specialized to do a particular job in the running of the group. All the eggs are laid by just one female the king. Some of the eggs hatch into worker termites which gather the food and maintain the nest structure. Others develop into soldier termites and protect the colony from intruders.
Termites come from various parts of Africa, Asia and Australia and build mounds of varying shapes and sizes. They feed on moist vegetable matter in particular, wood. They are not able to digest the cellulose of plant cell walls themselves, however. Within their gut live bacteria and protozoa which carry out this job for them.