The Nasutitermitinae subfamily of termites is a part of the termitidae family. The Nasutitermitinae subfamily includes numerous termite species, all of which are notable for being among the most advanced termite species that exist. Scientific literature concerning this termite subfamily is constantly evolving, as new Nasutitermitinae species are being discovered frequently in regions all over the world. Like other higher termites, Nasutitermitinae species demonstrate advanced mound-building abilities, as their temperature controlled nesting mounds can reach a massive 30 feet in height, and can contain millions of individual termites. In addition to being master mound-builders, the soldier termites of this subfamily possess both a mechanical and a chemical form of defense. Unlike less advanced termites, Nasutitermitinae termites can use their chemical form of defense to repel some of the fiercest predators.
It is easy to tell Nasutitermitinae termites from other termite species, as these termites possess a pointed snout called a nasus. A chemical defense apparatus that emits a glue-like aerosol repellent exists at the tip of the nasus. 40 years ago, a group of pioneering Nasutitermitinae researchers named this particular apparatus the “frontal weapon”. The frontal weapon is composed of a frontal gland, a frontal pore and other minor structures. The frontal pore can be found at the tip of the cone-shaped nasus, and the chemical repellent is ejected from this pore. The pore is surrounded by numerous sensory bristles that fulfill a function that is not yet well understood by scientists. However, these sensory bristles likely detect mechanical stimuli, such as pressure or vibrations, as well as chemical stimuli. Since termite soldiers are blind, these sensory bristles tell them where an enemy is located within the surrounding environment via vibrations, and chemoreceptor bristles allow the termites to sense the speed, force and amount of repellent being sprayed in defense. This repellent has a toxic effect on ants, but it is more useful for chemically manipulating aggressive ants into making their raids on termite nests slower and less efficient.
Have you ever heard of any other insect making use of chemical defense methods?