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Termite Trouble

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Donald demonstrates why metal ladders are better.

"Some primal termite knocked on wood
Tasted it, and found it good
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today."
— "The Termite" by Ogden Nash

Termites are portrayed in fiction as very fast munchers of wood who gleefully turn floors, furniture, ladders and other wooden items into sawdust to the tune of saw blade sounds; often, they are simply a terrifying invisible force that rapidly disintegrates wood. They are often a problem in buildings and may require fumigation tents.

Compare Literal Bookworm for another destructive bug, and Ant Assault for another troublemaking crawling insect swarms. See also Horde of Alien Locusts.



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  • In the Lucky Luke comic "The bridge on the Mississippi" the evil mayor suggests that the opening of a wooden bridge be celebrated by swinging a bottle of champagne against it. As a test a seemingly empty bottle is used, but it really contained termites, which begin to eat the bridge from the inside. Then the cavalry attempts to ride across the bridge, but it collapses under their weight. And of course, this part of the river just happens to be full of alligators...
  • Termites turn out to be the savior... and the new problem... of the Smurf Village in The Smurfs comic book story "You Don't Smurf Progress".
  • Gaston Lagaffe: Lebrac throws a bottle of termites at Gaston's Gaffophone over the weekend. On Monday morning, doors collapse, desks crumble to dust, pencils are gone... Gaston quickly puts two and two together and goes to check on his instrument... which is sitting untouched by the termites.

  • In the book No Score, the narrator works for a little while with a scam company which sells termite inspection & extermination door to door; they carry small vials of termites to release so the homeowner can actually see them.
  • This is a major plot point in the ninth Animorphs book, The Secret. The team is forced to morph termites to infiltrate a Yeerk logging front and lose themselves in the simple, overpowering hive-minded instincts of the termites.
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture is set in the termite society, so it's no surprise this trope comes up. In their scientific research on a particular human's home, the termites explore thoroughly his walls and his furniture by eating tunnels through them—causing the guy's house to collapse.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one episode of Family Matters, Steve creates a batch of super termites. Unfortunately, they get loose and end up devouring Eddie and Waldo's apartment building, to the point that the apartment above them caves in.
  • In the third season finale of Good Luck Charlie, "All Fall Down", Bob catches Brazilian termites and takes them to his house to show his family. The termites escape and multiply, and despite his best efforts to catch them, Bob doesn't succeed and the Duncan house is destroyed by the termites, forcing the Duncan family to live in a hotel until they can get their house repaired (and they do in the Season 4 premiere, "Duncan Dream House").

    Video Games 
  • In Escape from Monkey Island, Guybrush must at one point infest the baddie's cane with a handful of termites so that he can follow the resulting trail of sawdust to the villain's lair. By the time you get there, the cane has dissolved completely.
  • Romancing Saga 2: The termites came closer to destroying the world than the Seven Heroes ever did. Specially later in the game where they managed to take over Avalon Castle.

    Western Animation 
  • The Pink Panther episode "Pink Pest Control": A termite bedevils the panther by literally eating him out of house and home. Watchable here.
  • Also from DFE, The Ant and the Aardvark episode "Rough Brunch": The Aardvark fights a termite (and his family) who can eat through wood products at lightning speed with the accompanying sound of a buzzsaw. There's a complete episode guide here and the episode is viewable here.
  • On one Looney Tunes cartoon, Porky Pig had to deal with a termite caricatured as a French-Canadian lumberjack. The exterminator Porky hires causes far more trouble for him than the termite.
    • Incidentally, the Warner Bros. Animation studio in The Golden Age of Animation was called "Termite Terrace" by Tex Avery and the other employees, due to the title trope.
    • One of the Gremlins from the Kremlin in Russian Rhapsody uses "termiteskis" to get rid of the wings on Adolf Hitler's plane.
  • For a sci-fi take on it, there's the Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Termites From Mars", which feature intergalactic termites that can chew through anything. Except adhesive tape.
    • The short itself is a Recycled Script of a promotional comic book for Scotch Tape.
  • An episode of The Berenstain Bears featured a story about a termite who teams up with the episode's villain to sell bogus "termite insurance" to bears. The scam involves the termite chowing down on wooden property.
  • The last episode of the western animated series Zoo Cup is about a soccer match between kangaroos and termites. Or rather it should be. Because just when kangaroos and the commentator are busy wondering where the termites' team and their supporters are, the termites eat up the entire stadium in seconds.
  • In one episode of The Huckleberry Hound Show, Huck encountered a crafty termite.
  • Tom and Jerry, in an episode of their 1970s series, dealt with a gang of termites on tiny motorcycles with sawblade wheels.
  • One episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was about a termite eating the characters out of house and home and Tigger befriending said termite when mistaking it for a different kind of bug.
  • One episode of The Simpsons was about the titular family being forced to live in a 19th Century home as part of a reality show because their house was badly damaged by termites living in a hockey stick.
  • A termite in Oggy and the Cockroaches had gigantic metal jaws and could reduce anything to splinters in a second. Even electrical appliances.
  • An episode of Eek! The Cat called "The Eeksterminator" had the eponymous cat accidentally breaking Wendy Elizabeth's inflatable Squishy Bears cage of termites and dealing with a termite that freed from the cage.
  • In the Popeye short Insect to Injury, Popeye tries to defend his newly-built home from termites. After eating his spinach, he rebuilt his house completely out of steel.
  • An episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force has Carl's house infested with termites that Meatwad ordered as pets.
    Carl: Certainly not gonna sign off on anymore packages with the word "Congo" written in blood.
  • In one episode of Aladdin: The Series, recurring villain Mechaniklies creates an army of mechanical termites to destroy the rain forests. This is a unique variation as by being mechanical, the termites here don't just eat wood, they eat anything, including living flesh.
  • In the Grand Finale of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Duke Igthorn seeks out a highly destructive termite known as Big Tooth and plants it on Zummi, who unknowingly takes it back to Gummi Glen. There, Reality Ensues as, despite Gummi Glen being built to last, it's still wood, with the termite completely demolishing the Gummis' home.
  • In the The Loud House episode, "Ruthless People", the Loud house is infested with termites, forcing half of the Loud family to stay at Sunset Canyon retirement home, and the other half to stay with Aunt Ruth. Lincoln manages to convince Lana to stay with Aunt Ruth, but later finds out the disadvantages of staying at Sunset Canyon and that Aunt Ruth bought a lake house, so he convinces Lana to stay at Sunset Canyon instead. However, he soon finds out that the lake house is also infested by the very same termites, thanks to Lana saving them from being exterminated. Meanwhile, Lana is having a good time on a cruise ship thanks to Sunset Canyon's air conditioning breaking down, much to Lincoln's ire.
  • In the The Lion Guard episode, "Too Many Termites", the Lion Guard mistake a pack of aardwolves for a pack of hyenas and chase them out of the Pride Lands. As a result, the Pride Lands become overrun with termites, which cause the hollow tree the Mekendu Bats live in and a thick tree bridge to fall apart. To save the Pride Lands, the Lion Guard have to own up to the aardwolves and convince them to come back so they can eat the termites.


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