Science: Termite Hunter

On a fine spring day during his honeymoon, Thomas Elliott Snyder suddenly dashed into a hardware store in Charleston, S.C., bought a hatchet and scurried out again. Then, while popeyed passers-by looked on, the bridegroom began hacking at a telephone pole on one of Charleston's main business streets. A few minutes later, he triumphantly rejoined his waiting and bewildered bride, with a fine specimen of a soldier termite (genus Kalotermes) in his hand.

More than a quarter-century later, Snyder, now 64-year-old senior entomologist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is still fascinated with...

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