Practice Problem 3

Termites provide an example of the symbiotic relationship between bacteria and higher organisms. Termites cannot digest the cellulose in the wood they eat, but their digestive tracts are infested with bacteria that can. Propose a simple way of ridding a house from termites, without killing other insects that might be beneficial.


Killing termites isn't difficult -- there are a number of poisons that do an excellent job. Unfortunately, these compounds can also poison other insects or even small animals or children. The simplest way of getting rid of termites is to treat the wood with a poison that kills the bacteria that digest the cellulose in wood, so that the termites starve to death.