Do Termites Produce More Methane Than Cows?

Have you ever wondered, while worrying about the planet earth’s pollution and sudden climate change, who produces more methane, cows, or termites? Well, you probably have, a million times. Methane can be bad or good for the environment, so it’s quite fair to wonder where it is coming from, how is it becoming a part of the environment, and whether it’s leaving a good or bad impact?

Who produces more methane cows or termites? Is a complex but widely discussed topic that requires a detailed discussion. It has been discussed on several discussion forums but a lot of us still need a detailed satisfactory answer.

In this article, besides discussing the main topic (do termites produce more methane than cows?), we would try to enlighten our reader with all the necessary information regarding this subject. So, without further ado, let’s start with the most Googled question;

Do termites produce more methane than cows? 

Yes, for the record, it’s true termites produce more methane than cows. Cows do produce methane but they can not beat termites and a few other noticeable methane producers for the production of this powerful greenhouse gas. 

How is methane produced by termites? 

The bacteria in the termites gut break down the plant material, the process of breaking down releases methane. The ruminants and the other arthropods produce methane similarly. 

One termite can emit about half a microgram of methane a day

It sounds pretty small, but the total termite population emits enough methane to be called “biggest methane producers after agriculture”. As per the recent study, almost 20 million tonnes of methane are emitted from termites each year. 

Termites release 20 million tonnes whereas cows are responsible for producing 1.3 to 1.5 million tonnes a year, the debate settles here! 

As per the estimate, the total termite population releases around 20 million tonnes whereas the cows only contribute 1.3 to 1.5 million tonnes to the total annual methane production. The debate settles here, as termites produce around 18 million tonnes more methane than cows. 

Termites produce more methane because they are numerous and they fart a lot 

The two main reasons why termites produce methane in abundance are; they are numerous in numbers and they happen to fart a lot. The number of termites and the habit of farting makes this tiny creature the biggest methane producer after agriculture. 

Who else produces methane in abundance? 

As mentioned above, several ruminants and arthropods also produce methane in impressive amounts. They would probably be much behind in the methane-producing race but the methane produced by them is noticeable enough to be counted. Besides termites, the other major methane producers are;

  • Cockroaches
  • Centipedes 
  • Scarabs beetle larvae
  • Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Buffaloes 
  • Goats
  • Deers
  • Camels
  • Pigs

Agriculture produces more methane than termites, livestock, or any other arthropods

Agricultural activities are believed to be the biggest methane producers, even more than the termites. Most methane is emitted from agricultural activities like; transport and production of coal, natural gas, and oil. Land use and organic waste decay in municipal solid waste landfills also contribute to methane gas production.


Five major sources of methane production

Methane is not solely distributed to the environment by termites, the six major methane sources are;

  • Paddy rice fields 
  • Emission from anaerobic decomposition 
  • Natural wetlands
  • Livestock 
  • Biomass burning 

Now that the worth sharing information is served, it’s time to answer the most Googled questions;

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do termites contribute to the total methane production?

If we try to judge it in percentage, termites contribute around 19 to 20% to the total methane production, and if we see its numbers, this tiny creature adds around 20 million tonnes of methane to the environment a year.

Do termites produce methane?

Yes, they do, in abundance. One termite produces and emits around half a microgram of methane every day. Termites are considered one of the biggest sources of methane emission.

Do cows produce methane?

Let alone cows, livestock produces methane but it is much lower than agriculture and the arthropods; termites, cockroaches, centipedes, and scarabs beetle larvae.

What is the biggest source of methane emission in today’s world?

According to the 2020 study, Agriculture is the biggest source of methane emission, ruminants, and arthropods are the second largest producers of this greenhouse gas called ” methane”.  The agricultural activities; transport and production of coal, natural gas, and oil are responsible for emitting methane gas in the environment.

How is methane produced and released through arthropods’ bodies?

Methane is produced when the arthropod’s body breaks down the plant matter and it is emitted into the environment by farts. Arthropods, especially termites, are numerous and they fart a lot, so they emit a huge amount of methane in the air.

Has the industrial revolution contributed to methane production?

Yes, it’s true, ruminants, arthropods, and agriculture are not the only reason for excessive methane in the environment. The industrial revolution is also contributing a noticeable amount to the total methane production.

What are the side effects of excessive methane gas in the environment?

Unburned methane is extremely harmful to the environment. Excessive methane can cause slurred speech, memory loss, vision issues, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, abnormal breathing, heart rate, numbness, unconsciousness, and balance issues can be noticed. Moreover, methane is also reported to alter the mood.

Which arthropods and ruminants produce methane?

Cockroaches, termites, and centipedes are the few arthropods that emit methane in the air. The ruminants that produce methane are cattle, sheep, goats, deer, camels, and pigs.

In brief, the appropriate answer to the question, do termites produce more methane than cows?  yes, this tiny creature is the 2nd largest methane producer. Cows produce 1.3 to 1.5 million tonnes whereas termites add up to 20 million tonnes of methane in the environment annually. Livestock does produce methane but in small amounts. Cattle, deers, camels, pigs, goats, and sheep, all emit this greenhouse gas called “methane”.

The arthropods that are responsible for producing and emitting methane are; Cockroaches, termites, and centipedes. The side effects of excessive methane in the air are; slurred speech, memory loss, vision issues, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, abnormal breathing, heart rate, numbness, and unconsciousness.

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  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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