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Modern Mysteries

Are termites responsible for 'fairy circles'?

By T.K. Randall
September 9, 2016 · Comment icon 9 comments

Are these the remains of termite colonies ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.5 Stephan Getzin
These mysterious circular, grass-ringed patches are still leaving scientists scratching their heads.
Earlier this year the phenomenon, which was previously thought to be exclusive to the deserts of Namibia, was discovered for the first time in Australia as well, leading to the theory that the circles are formed by plants 'organizing' themselves to maximize their access to water and nutrients.

Now however, a separate group of researchers has put the dampener on this idea by instead suggesting that they are likely to be a remnant of termite nests - a theory that was previously dismissed because no correlation between the two could be found.
Ecologist Fiona Walsh and her colleagues maintain that the termite idea does have merit as the indigenous people of Australia have long attributed the circles to the insects. Remnants of old termite colonies have also been found beneath some of the circles when they've been dug up.

"This new Australian data suggests that a termite hypothesis for African circles... should be revisited, despite being rejected by the Getzin team," Walsh said in a statement.

Whether termites can account for all the circles found to date however remains to be seen.

Source: Live Science | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Ell 8 years ago
This guy DeepSand in the comments to another fairy circle article suggests that fairy circles are due to microcirculation of air.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Not Your Huckleberry 8 years ago
Nope, fairies are responsible for the termite circles.
Comment icon #3 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
I'm not sure that this data is any different then the data from Africa. Termites are found inside and outside the rings, and many times not near them at all. It is an interesting idea, but I don't think the evidence has shown this to be a good theory yet.
Comment icon #4 Posted by White Unicorn 8 years ago
I read of other fairy circles that were caused by fungi that weren't termites.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Essan 8 years ago
Aye, in Britain (and I guess elsewhere) we get fairy rings or fairy circles which are caused by fungi. However these are not the cause of such rings found in the hotter climates of Africa and Australia.   Similar effect, but different causes.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Varelse 8 years ago
How can they be sure the termite activity caused the rings? that the two are found together hasn't solved the puzzle yet. Maybe termites were drawn to a source of food. Like fairy turds.
Comment icon #7 Posted by UFOwatcher 8 years ago
Perhaps several things cause these circles, not just termites, fungi, etc.?
Comment icon #8 Posted by HollyDolly 8 years ago
Could they be harvester ants? They are a large red ant that exist in my area. They are so called because they also cut the grass and leave similar ring like areas devoid of grass.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Mr.United_Nations 8 years ago
Harvester ants dont live in every continant though

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