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A Few Shining Lights In The Darkness: 5 Upstanding Termites I Must Acknowledge Took No Part In The Eating Of My House

Earlier this year, my entire house collapsed into a heap of beams and insulation as a result of extensive termite damage. Needless to say, this experience significantly lowered termites in my esteem, but I do have to admit that there are some termites who have maintained my respect during the ordeal. Here are 6 upstanding termites I must acknowledge took no part in the eating of my house.

1. The termite that watched silently from a nearby tree stump while the rest of the termites ate my house

Early on in my saga, I watched helplessly as a parade of thousands upon thousands of termites stormed my basement, making a menacing line from the woods behind my house across my lawn. But I did spy a single termite—an independent soul, perhaps deemed a heretic among his kind—that, before reaching my apartment, stopped at a small stump at the edge of the woods and watched the action from there. I have to assume that he knew what his compatriots had set out to do, and wanted no part in it. I do believe that termites are evil, vicious, and destructive, and clearly have no regard for the once impressive split-level I’d taken out a 30-year mortgage on—but I must make an exception for this particular termite. He was different.

2. The termite that chose to eat my shed rather than my house

Thank you, I say Thank you, to this termite! Most mornings this year I woke up to the sound of thousands of synchronized termite jaws gnawing at my house’s supports and causing the walls to buckle, but this singular termite had ideas of its own, and chose instead to gnaw at the dozens of boards that made up my toolshed. Of course, I would have preferred that my toolshed not be destroyed, but in the scheme of things it was much less painful and expensive than the total decimation of my house. I have to think that this termite recognized my inherent, deep-seated longing for a home, and chose to protect it. An upstanding termite, indeed.

3. The termite that I found in my bed

Was it pleasant to wake up one morning, my house sagging around me, to find a termite walking across my pillow? Of course not. But in that moment, I knew this termite was a special one: it had sought me out personally, and it was just hanging out in my bed without contributing to the devouring of my home. Whether it hoped to make a connection with me or simply wanted to warn me of its fellow termite’s doings I cannot say, but one thing I must acknowledge is that in that moment, it was reaching out with a message rather than simply gnawing on all the important wood that holds my house up. Unlike some termites I could name.

4. The termite that I could tell was eating as little of my house as he possibly could without arousing the suspicion of the other termites

There is, I believe, an instinct for social inclusion present in termites just like there is in humans, and I would not begrudge a termite his desire to fit in with his peers despite their poor behavior. On multiple occasions, I observed this termite taking a much smaller-than-standard bite of my baseboards, and also taking bites at a much slower pace than all the other termites, likely so that he could convince the other termites that he was part of the “in crowd” without thoroughly wreaking havoc on my home. Social tension rips at the core of many beings on this Earth, and I have to admit that this termite was just doing what he could to feel a sense of belonging under those difficult circumstances.

5. The termite that was pretty much just lying there dead the whole time

Instead of eating my house, this wonderful termite decided to be dead. A political suicide, maybe? In some way, whether conscious or unconscious, this termite decided that it would prefer to die than to destroy my suburban paradise. It is a sacrifice that did not go unnoticed, and will not go unthanked. I will tell the tale of this noble, dead termite for the rest of my days.