Termites' crystal backpacks help them go out with bang
When defending their colony, some termites "explode", releasing chemicals that injure intruders.
A previously unknown crystal structure has been discovered that raises the toxicity of their chemical weapons.
As worker termites grow older, they become less able to perform their duties.
Yet this newly discovered structure allows ageing workers to better defend their colony. The research was published today in Science.
When faced with a threat, many termite species employ a type of altruistic suicide known as "autothysis" in order to deter attackers. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19001083