Landfill termites

We reasoned that eating homes in the suburbs was not the best job for these marvelous eusocial insects. New wood products for home construction can be cheaply dipped after sawing and planing in a bitter plant-based tea made with crushed dandelions, which termites find distasteful, but we were more interested in socially constructive uses for our tiny friends than in warding them away from homes. In the wild, termites perform the useful function of gathering and digesting dead plant material including fallen leaves, logs, and limbs. In suburbia, this role is relegated to our landfills, so we developed a species of termites that thrives on cellulose and other debris that fill our garbage dumps and increases the production of recoverable methane. The keys to enhancing their usefulness in landfills was to increase their tolerance of methane and reduce their mobility by depriving them of wings.