This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It is not often that ants are found destructive to living plants, but we have the following note from Mr. Lorin Blodgett:
" This Geranium-eating white ant is a great pest. I send a stem of another plant I cut up this morning, also the foot of the Pine stake, which is also eaten through, in the regular fashion of the white ants. This is the stake holding the plant when bought (I do not recollect from whom) in the pot. I have now lost four plants, this last not being all eaten out but girdled at the root and hollowed out on one of the branches above. I hope to get your description of the ant or animal, whatever the name or origin".
These were submitted to Rev. Dr. Henry McCook, of Philadelphia, our highest authority on these questions, who has kindly responded in the following letter:
" The specimens from the plants of Mr. Blodgett are dead and very much decayed, but from the most perfect one, I have no hesitation in determining it to be not a new species, as you conjecture, but our common Termes flavipes This insect abounds everywhere in our vicinity. I have traced them by myriads. Some time last Winter I made a statement concerning these insects before the Academy, and exhibited the specimens of their work from my collection of insect architecture. They were taken from the fence of a gentleman in Delaware County. The surface of the wood was literally riddled by the termites. They love decayed wood, under which: they nest and on which they feed. They also live under stones. They have not been of great damage here as yet, but the possibility of such an increase of the insects as to make them, as. Mr. Blodgett says, "a pest, " is at least worth thinking about. Mr. Hagen (Howard) has a fine paper on them in, I think, the American Naturalist, of about a year ago, or more. Dr. Leidy has recently made some most interesting discoveries of the parasite life within their abdomens - a wonderful revelation.
Termes flavipes is not a true ant, but belongs to the Neuroptera".