Do you have termites in your home? If not, would you like to? Not ones that are living in the wooden structure of the building itself, of course – that'd be no fun. Instead, the Termitat securely houses a colony of Pacific Dampwood Termites within a clear acrylic housing, where you can watch them going about their business on a daily basis. It's like an ant farm, except instead of dirt it has a disc of Douglas Fir wood, and instead of ants it has ... well, termites.
San Francisco-based designer Chris Poehlmann started out creating larger but similar termite habitats for zoos and museums – the same sort of places that display the shrimp-containing EcoSpheres. The Termitat is simply the "home version."
Each unit contains approximately 25 worker and soldier termites, which should be able to live out their natural lifespan (a few years) subsisting on the included wood. Owners just need to add a bit of water through a tiny hole in the top of the Termitat twice a month, and keep the display out of direct sunlight to avoid overheating.
Of course, the big question is "What if they get out and eat my house?". For starters, the display itself is claimed to be escape-proof. If the quarter-inch acrylic housing were to get smashed, however, there likely still wouldn't be a problem. That's because Dampwood Termites typically live in wet logs in forests, and aren't among the species known to inhabit the dry wood of homes.
Poehlmann is currently raising production funds for the Termitat, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$125 will get you a basic kit, when and if they're ready to go. Higher pledge levels include a magnifier or a USB electronic microscope.
You can see the wood-eating critters in action, in the pitch video below.