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Why Do Termites Follow an Ink Line?

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A number of household substances can attract the attention of termites. One of the more peculiar substances that some termites fixate on is the ink in common ballpoint pens. If you draw a line across a surface with one of these pens, you may witness a line of termites following it like a guide.


The key to this behavior lies in the method termites use to communicate with one another. When one termite finds something worth investigating, it lays down a pheromone trail that the other termites can smell and follow with unerring accuracy. This pheromone is chemically similar to a number of different household chemicals, and many types of ballpoint ink mimic its characteristics well enough to fool the insects. Not every type of ink will work; but if you find one with the right chemical odor, you can send termites on a wild-goose chase or make them run around in circles.