Flirting stimulates red velvet mites' designing skills, too. Once mate season rolls around, this little insect - which rarely reaches 2 cm of length - starts to work on what the scientists call "love garden". It is a structure composed of small twigs, stalks and leaves glued together with sperm. When the garden is finished, the velvet mite lays a silken trail that leads to the entrance of his tiny shelter. It will stand at the end of its hand-crafted red carpet and wait for females to come around. To attract females' attention, the male performs a ritual mating dance inviting its potential partners to enter the fecund garden.
Termites think big, they do not build common houses, but they erect cathedrals. Realized with chewed remnants of trees, mud and excrements, these iconic structures can reach up to 2 metres in height. They are natural skyscrapers equipped with all the comforts: air-conditioner, nursery and indoor gardens. A complicated network of tunnels connects the different part of the building, while a web of chimneys allows air circulation assuring the colony an air-conditioned ambience. There are nursery areas for new-born larva and some colonies maintain inside gardens of fungi.
5. Weaver birds and their sky condominiums Image courtesy of Rui Ornelas