Rumor Flies

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Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in every week for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged. 

Rumor Flies is a member of the Dark Myths collective. Check out these amazingly talented people and their awesome shows!

 

Snap Judgment #19: Termites are so Metal

#33: Termites eat through wood two times faster when listening to rock music

Verdict: True

So this one I really expected to be nonsense or based on VERY loose research/facts, but turns out it's totally true. When rock is played, termites get amped up, start a circle pit, and chow down. What's also interesting is that this claim has been asserted as early as 1968, but became more well known after Snapple introduced it as a "Snapple Real Fact" sometime around 2002-2003. A 2005 study confirms the strong relationship between the eating habits/speed of termites and various frequencies, as well as the fact that the frequencies found in what most would consider "rock" did in fact speed them up. 

So this goes into 3 elements (at least when I saw it was true):
1. What counts as "rock"?
2. Why rock?
3. Is it TWICE as fast? 

As it turns out, a lot of music can be categorized by the frequency of their main instruments. The sound frequencies generated by electric guitar and bass is ~2.5KHz, with 600Hz - 3kHz being more represented in rock, so I assume that is what is used as the definition of rock. Termites, as it turns out, are attracted to wood vibrating via a ~2.8kHz signal, which answers part 2. Part 3 is where I had the most trouble. I couldn't find any good info or graphs on how much it increased their consumption speed by. So while I still consider this to be a true, there is a strong BUT if you want to be particular about the language. 

So this was a pretty short one, so I decided to add another arbitrary set of facts! One thing I was curious about was what kinds of wood termites prefer. We in New Orleans know that they can't eat cypress wood, which is part of what made (and continues to make) it so popular as a building material. Redwood, cedar, and cypress, as it turns out, are all naturally resistant to termites. Just a little something extra for you. 

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