The past two days we have been experiencing quite a lot of rain. The Msini River has become a torrent of a river and even the Beho Beho River is flowing with purpose. Both of these Rivers are annual rivers which tend to remain dry most part, until we receive some fantastic rain, as what has happened over the past two days.
The whole region looks emerald green, water flowing down streams and drainage areas, and after the rains it feels as if the area has been cleaned, almost a new freshness in the air. The frogs and toads begin to croak their various choruses and together create a bush symphony, with the bush crickets and katydids chirping in their melodies to accompany the orchestra.
The light is also very clear and warm as the first rays of sun are let through the dark rain clouds, fantastic for those who love photography. But with rain and moisture, the flying termites or alates begin to emerge from the various termite mounds or termitaria. These are future kings and queens in search for one another, in the hope to start a termitaria of their own. As the female lands her wings break off and she immediately leaves her pheromone behind, allowing a possible suitor to follow. Once a possible king is on her trail, there’s no turning back as he becomes a bloodhound of love. Eventually she will lead him to a suitable area, where they tunnel into the soil, forming the first chamber and beginning of a termitaria. They mate, and she subsequently will then lay 25 000 to 30 000 eggs, the beginning of a new termite society, with the various castes forming the future mound; soldiers for defence; workers to ensure all building operations are done correctly and the eggs and nymphs are looked after, including the queen; future kings and queens which undertake their flights after the rains have started to start new colonies; and then the king and queen, which unlike ants continue mating, not only once. All fertilised eggs will become future males, unfertilised eggs are females.
But for many of these flying termites or alates, they are not as fortunate, as they become meals for many animals, which relish this opportunity as the buffet is opened. Lots of various species of birds, for example; Lilac-breasted Rollers, Broad-billed Rollers, Dickinson’s Kestel, Red-necked Falcons, Hooded Vultures, Lesser spotted Eagles, to name a few, take part in the feast. Other animals include: different species of rodents, bats, jackals, mongoose, baboon, other invertebrates, and the list just carries on. For the flight of the termites is a big festive meal for all, it is said that for every 25 000 termites eaten it is the equivalent of 750g of pure lean beef; a lot of good protein.
It remains a beautiful spectacle and time of year.