Termites That Shoot Defensive Glue

Termites are small, social insects that live in large colonies and are known for their wood-eating habits.

Some species of termites, however, have developed a unique defense mechanism to protect themselves and their colonies from predators: they can shoot a sticky, glue-like substance from special glands located in their bodies.

Behavior and Ecology

Termites that use defensive glue have evolved to live in environments where they are more vulnerable to predators, such as in open grasslands or savannas. These termites have developed the ability to shoot the glue as a way to deter predators and protect themselves.

The glue is produced in glands located on the termite’s abdomen and is secreted through a special opening called an anal sphincter.

When the termite feels threatened, it contracts its abdominal muscles to squeeze the glue out of the glands and onto the attacker. The glue is sticky and hardens quickly, making it difficult for the predator to remove from its body or mouth.

Some species of termites that use defensive glue include the African grassland termite (Microtermes subapterus) and the Australian black termite (Microcerotermes strategicus). this type of termite sprays chemicals out of their heads and is known to shoot the glue at ants, spiders, and other insects that may threaten the colony.

Effectiveness of Defensive Glue

The effectiveness of defensive glue as a defense mechanism varies depending on the species of termite and the predator.

In some cases, the glue may be enough to deter the predator and protect the termite. In other cases, the predator may be able to break through the glue and attack the termite.

For example, the African grassland termite has been observed to be effective at deterring ants and other insects, but less effective at deterring larger predators such as birds and mammals.

The Australian black termite, on the other hand, has been found to be effective at deterring a variety of predators, including ants, spiders, and lizards.

Additional Uses of Defensive Glue

Fascinatingly, the use of defensive glue by termites is not limited to just deterring predators.

Some termites have been observed using the glue to repair damage to their nests and to seal off openings that may allow predators to enter.

Energy Requirements for Defensive Glue Production

The production and secretion of defensive glue also requires a significant amount of energy on the part of the termite.

This is because the glands responsible for producing the glue are large and specialized, and the process of shooting the glue requires muscle contractions.

As a result, termites may not use this defense mechanism lightly, only resorting to it in times of true threat or distress.

Other Insects with Unique Defense Mechanisms

Termites that use defensive glue are not the only insects with unique defense mechanisms. Other insects, such as the bombardier beetle, have evolved the ability to spray hot, toxic chemicals as a means of self-defense.

The diversity of defense mechanisms found in the animal kingdom is a testament to the incredible adaptability and survival strategies of different species.


In conclusion, termites that shoot defensive glue are a fascinating example of the adaptations that can evolve in response to environmental pressures. This defense mechanism allows these termites to protect themselves and their colonies from predators, as well as to repair damage to their nests.

The use of defensive glue requires a significant amount of energy and may not be used lightly by termites, but it is a unique and effective adaptation that has allowed these insects to thrive in their environments.