Sunday, June 12, 2016

A simple way to trap gamu-gamu (winged termites)


Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog (avrotor.blogspot.com)
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, [www.pbs.gov.ph8-9 evening class Monday to Friday

It's swarming season of gamu-gamu (winged termites), midges and gnats. Tape a cellophane or plastic bag around a lighted bulb as trap. Once trapped the insect loses its wings and is doomed. Gamu-gamu is fed to fish or dried as feed ingredient for poultry and animals. It is also served as exotic food. It is high in protein and believed to be an aphrodisiac.

What I have known earlier is a similar technique for outdoor by hanging a fresh branch with fine leaves like tamarind near a lighted bulb to attract the circling insects which then settle down on the branch, thus reducing nuisance caused by the insects' sheer number. The more important reason to trap these insects is to reduce their number in the long run.

Swarming is breeding en masse, an orgy, with pairs settling down after their celebrated nuptial flight, consequently to found new colonies. It is not surprising if termites are later found inside apparadors, among old piles of clothes and books, in bodegas and storerooms, in libraries and museums, in well tended gardens, and in beams and trusses of houses.

This is nature's way to disseminate the species and establish niches of new colonies to avoid species inter-competition. Here in the new colony the pair starts building a family which grows into thousands of members in their long lifetime. We can only imagine the destructiveness caused by one colony with the queen termite reproducing daily for a lifetime that may reach ten to even twenty years!

By the way, swarming is triggered by a biological clock that wakes up potential breeders, soldiers and workers, becoming males and females respectively, among termites, and ants. Nature fits them with two pairs of detachable wings, loads them with sex hormones, and extra calories in anticipation of the first strong rain that comes as early as April in the northern hemisphere. Then all of a sudden the night comes alive, with thousands, if not millions, of tiny flying insects swarming around any conceivable light in the house, street, around campfires, colliding with cars and banging against glass panes.

Swarms come from different colonies to interbreed in order to insure a stronger gene pool for the species, otherwise the species weakens through inbreeding.

The enigma of the insect world may not be fathomed by our searching mind, not even with the computer and modern laboratories. But definitely this simple devise - a plastic bag trap - erases some fear insects pose, and gives man a sense of victory against a persistent enemy. ~ 

Acknowledgment: Leo Carlo my youngest son, inventive as he is, raised the idea of this insect trap which he put it to work at home. It is my pleasure to share this practical, safe and  expenseless, technique through these photos.

Swarming is a biological phenomenon taking place mainly at the onset of habagat or monsoon.

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