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Termites – White Ants

Australian Termites

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Table of Contents

AUSTRALIAN TERMITES

Table of Contents

Short Description of Termites

Brief Description of the Types of Termites

Termites Nature

Darwin Termite (Mastotermitidae Darwiniensis)

Drywood Termites (Kalotermitidae)

Native Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes primus)

West Indian Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes Brevis)

Ringant Termite (Neotermis insularis)

Dampwood Termite (Porotemes adamsoni)

Drywood Termite (Heterotermes ferox)

Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes acinaciformis)

Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes frenchi)

Milk Termite (Coptotermes lacteus)

Subterranean Termite (Schedorhinotermes Intermedius)

Subterranean Termite (Microcerotermis turneri)

Nasutitermes Exitiosus

Weathered Wood Termite (Nasutitermes fumigatus)

Tree Termite (Nasutitermes walkeri)

Magnetic Termite (Amitermes meridionalis)

References

 

Short Description of Termites

Termites are small bodied insects. The subterranean termites (white ants) are the most destructive. They usually range from 4 mm to 16 mm. The biggest are the queens of Microcerotermis bellicosus, measuring close to 11 cm in length (4 in).

Most soldier and worker termites are blind due to their lack of eyes. However, some species: Hodotermes spp have compound eyes which enable them to decipher between moonlight and sunlight.

Termites have two plates and ten segments abdomen. They have antennae used for sensing of touch, taste, vibration, odor, vibration and heat.

The non-reproductive termites are wingless and depend totally on their six legs for movement; whereas the alates termites (winged termites) are equipped with wings which enable them to fly, locate a mate and probably establish a new colony.

Brief Description of the Types of Termites

Workers

workers

The workers are the largest of any termite species and the ones that do the damages. They are creamy soft-bodied termites carrying out duties like food gathering, tunnel construction and repair, feeding the soldiers, nymphs, soldiers and queen.

They usually have a body size of 3mm-4mm. They have no wings and eyes and works 24 hours a day. The workers’ lifespan varies for each species. In some termites species, death is just 24 hours while in other species, it could be years.

Soldiers

soldiers

The soldiers usually have a big armored head- usually orange. Attached to the armored head are mandibles which they use to crush attackers: ants, worms. Some soldiers have a pointed snout used to destabilize their enemies…with the sticky fluid coming out of the snout.

On opening their cast, the soldiers are always the first to rush out, trying to protect their cast.

Swarmers (Alates)

alates

People usually see them when they move out in large numbers, usually during the raining season. They have an eye- although vision is still poor- and wings which enable them to get around, find a mate, and become a new king or queen of a new colony.

The King and Queen

the-king-and-queen

The queens are usually small. But after mating, they become an egg-laying machine, laying as many as 2000 eggs per day. The king, on the other hand, becomes slightly bigger than the alate (not as big as the queen), mating with the queen for life, unlike other ants that likely mate ones and then store the sperm for continuous usage.

The termite queen can live for up to 50 years. And some Queen can switch from sexual reproduction into asexual reproduction.

termite-life-cycle

The queen termite lays her egg. The eggs develop into nymphs which later evolve into the workers, soldiers, and the alates. The alates fly away from their colony in search of a mate. The pair establishes a new colony, and the female evolve into the queen.

 

Termites Nature

termite-hazard-map

Termites are highly destructive, causing major structural timber destructions; thereby affecting commercial and domestic buildings.

Destruction of Australian homes is on the rising because of the design and materials used for construction.

 

Darwin Termite (Mastotermitidae Darwiniensis)

dawin-termite

Identification

They resemble cockroaches at first glance: abdomen joined to the termite’s fore part. The alates have their wings structured as cockroaches. They lay their eggs in case, just like the cockroaches.

Habitat

They are found only in northern Australia. They are not very numerous except in locations with abundant water supply, favorable soil condition, and food supply.

Feeding and Diet

feeding

Darwins feed on a wide variety of diets like introduced plant, ivory, and leather, debris and wood, and anything organic

Destruction Ability

They have the potential to bore a hole into a living tree and ring bark. They tree dies, and it becomes their center of their colony. They are devastating, affecting vegetable farmers in Northern Australia

 

 Drywood Termites (Kalotermitidae)

drywood-termites-kalotermitidae

Identification

Drywood termites have a dark-brown head and a creamy body. They have prominent mandibles, and body size is larger that the subterranean termites (white ants). They include 419 species. They have a sophisticated mechanism for conserving water

Habitat

Unlike Darwin termites, Drywood Termites need a little water to reproduce because of their ability to extract and store so much water from their feces. They live in wood, with no connection to the ground (usually found in attic wood).

drywood-termite

Feeding and Diet

They feed on wood and cellulose materials

Destruction Ability

While the white ants burrow underground, the Drywood Termites do not need soil to attack homes, destroying any wooden structure they come across. The moment they gain access to a particular home, they spread fast from one room to the other.

Native Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes primus)

Identification

identirication

The soldiers of Cryptotermes primus are pale cream with short dark heads. The alates are light brown. To be candid, their identification of the numerous species is a specialist task. The Native Drywood Termites do not form big colonies- 200 termites may form a single colony.

Soldiers can range from 4mm-6mm in size

Habitat

They live in small colonies in dead stumps, branch stubs or fire scars. They majorly reside in the Australian forests.

Feeding and Diet

feeding-and-diet

They extract cellulose from wood they infest

Destructive Ability

They are capable of devastating any timber in homes including skirting boards, furniture, fence posts, beams, etc.

West Indian Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes Brevis)

west-indian-drywood-termite

 

Identification

The West Indian Drywood Termite, just like other Drywood Termite, is larger than the white ants. They have shorter limbs and walk slowly. They have powerful jaws for chewing wood fiber, antennae that resemble a necklace strung and a powerful claw for grabbing wooden surfaces.

The king and queen have dark brown cuticles. But other members have soft bodies. Soldiers range from 4mm-5mm with big heads and strong mandibles.

Habitat

They’re quickly introduced into new locations faster than any other species. They were first discovered in Australia in 1966. Just like other Drywood termites, they live in trees with little moisture.

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from invaded woods

Destructive Ability

They are capable of destroying any wood: soft and hard woods in buildings and moveable objects. Annually, the termites cause a damage amounting to $100 million annually in the United States, and billions of dollars worldwide.

Ringant Termite (Neotermis insularis)

ringant-termite

Identification

Their head is not prominently flattened, and the thorax section behind the head (pronotum) is as big as the head. Their mandibles curve slightly upward. Neotermis insularis has the largest soldiers of the Australian termites species.

The soldiers have a size range of 10mm-15mm

Habitat

They reside in garden trees and forest trees. They live in coastal Australia, around coastal Queensland, Victoria, South Wales, Nothern Territory. Ringnant nest has many galleries in the outer soft growth rings of trees.

Feeding and Diet

ringant-termite-feeding-and-diet

They extract cellulose from wood.

Destructive Ability

Ringnant Termite is a serious pest in eastern Australia, destroying commercial timbers used for furniture.

Dampwood Termite (Porotemes adamsoni)

dampwood-termite

Identification

Their soldiers have a rectangular shaped head and short mandibles, about one-third of the head length. They require a dead wood to start a colony.

Habitat

They are found in East Coast of Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, South East Queensland. They reside in damp decaying logs and tree stumps.

Feeding and Diet

dampwood-termite-feeding-and-diet

They extract cellulose from the decaying wood they inhabit.

Destructive Ability

They rarely come attacking homes because they don’t have the capacity to invade hardwood.

Drywood Termite (Heterotermes ferox)

drywood-termite-heterotermes-ferox

Identification

Their soldiers are between 4mm-5mm long with elongated, sword-like mandibles. Heterotermes have a long, rectangular and parallel side when viewed from the top. They have antennae that are bead-like (moniliform).

The king and queen alates have a flat pronotum without anterior lobes. Their tarsi are 4-segmented.

They are sometimes taken for Coptotermes species, but Heterotermes has a more slender body.

Habitat

Drywood Termite is commonly found throughout Victoria, southern parts of South Australia, Western Australia- particularly the urban areas- especially when eucalypt gum are readily available. They favor locations with atmospheric humidity above 75 percent.

They build their nest in logs, stumps and other timber structures where they have direct contact with soil and wood decay are prevalent.

drywood-termite-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from wood, especially eucalypt trees

Destructive Ability

They are found attacking fences, poles, post, decking, etc. where there is some weathering present. They do not build mounds, unlike most termites.

Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes acinaciformis)

coptotermes-acinaciformis

Identification

Their soldiers are very aggressive, producing milky liquid from their big mandibles. They are usually confused as Coptotermes frenchi or Coptotermes lacteus. But Coptotermes acinaciformis is larger than the previous two, having its size between 5mm-6.5mm.

Habitat

They reside throughout Australia except in Tasmania. They stay in the urban areas and forest where there are eucalypt trees. They construct their nest underground or within the base of a tree and wall cavities as long as there is moisture. A single colony can have close to a million termites. They sometimes build subsidiary colonies from their main colony.

coptotermes-acinaciformis-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from their invaded wood and materials

Destructive Ability

They are highly destructive to buildings and timbers. As a matter of fact, they’re the most widely spread species of termites in Australia, and they are responsible for over seventy percent of termites home invasion and destruction in Australia.

Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes frenchi)

coptotermes-frenchi

Identification

Several species of Coptotermes exist in Australia, and it’s very tasking differentiating one from the other. Their soldiers have large, sabre-shaped mandibles and a pore (glandular) on the forehead.

Just like Coptotermes acinaciformis, the soldiers produce milky liquid from a gland from their head when threatened. There is a fontanelle on the front of their heads.

Habitat

They usually build their colonies in tree stumps, living and dead tree trunks, and in the soil (underground). They reside in New South Wales, Western and Southern Australia, Coastal Queensland, and Australian Capital Territory.

They are capable of traveling 70m underground in search of food.

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from wood and other attacked materials

Destructive Ability

They destroy timber building structures, power poles, fence posts. When disturbed, they retreat temporarily, coming back again in full force. They are responsible for most of the timber damages in ACT region.

Milk Termite (Coptotermes lacteus)

coptotermes-lacteus

Identification

They are distinguished from Coptotermes frenchi and Coptotermes aninaciformis by their soldiers. The soldiers are a little bit smaller than the two species. They are difficult to distinguish from the other two species, and recognizing one from each other should be done by an expert.

Habitat

They often build their nest above ground level (up to 2m) with hard clay. They are prevalent in the Great Dividing Range, Western Slopes, and along the entire coast-line

coptotermes-lacteus-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from invaded woods.

Destructive Ability

They attack timber fences, poles, dead trees, stumps, and other wood structures that are in contact with the soil. They sometimes attack timbers in damp sub-floor areas.

 

Subterranean Termite (Schedorhinotermes Intermedius)

schedorhinotermes-intermedius

Identification

Their soldiers have a big head, with mandibles that are not evenly sawlike. They have 4-segmented Tarsi and 2-segmented abdominal cerci. The pronotum is flat in Schedorhinotermes with no anterior lobes.

They have two types of soldiers: Major and Minor. The Major soldiers range from 5mm-7.5mm, and they have a bulbous head. On the other hand, the Minor soldiers have a narrow head and slender mandibles, ranging from 3mm-5mm.

Habitat

They mostly reside in dead trees, root crown of living trees, timbers found on the ground, on the ground under the fireplace, under houses, etc. They are easily seen in New South Wales,  Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory.

schedorhinotermes-intermedius-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They feed on wood products, leaves, grass, and bark. They feed on any material as long as they can extract cellulose. They also need protein which they obtain from fungi and decay woods and vegetation.

Destructive Ability

They can match the intensity of Coptotermes acinaciformis, destroying household furniture, poles and anything wooden. Just like Coptotermes spp, they require the service of an expert in complete eradication from affected areas.

 

Subterranean Termite (Microcerotermis turneri)

microcerotermis-turneri

Identification

Their soldiers range from 4.5mm-6mm, having a rectangular head and mandibles with no teeth. Their mandibles are curved, long and finely separated. The head is orange-like in color with a cream body.

Habitat

They have their nest in the trees, stumps, posts, power poles, on the ground. They sometimes nest inside the walls and in roof cavities.

microcerotermis-turneri-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from paper products and cardboards, decorative timbers, gyprock.

Destructive Ability

They are one of the least aggressive out of all the termites species. Damages from them are rarely severe. But they are capable of destroying important paper documents and adoring furniture.

Nasutitermes Exitiosus

nasutitermes-exitiosus

Identification

Their soldiers range from 3.6mm-4.8mm. Their head draws back into beak with no mandibles. They have a big black head and a light-brown body.

The queen of Nasutitermes exitiosus measures up to 30mm in length.

Habitat

They are often seen in Southern Queensland, New South Wales. They are mould-building species. In places without moist, they nest in tree stumps or below ground. They also build their nest under properties, collapsing flooring in severe cases. Their mold is usually dome-shaped, ranging from 30cm-75cm high with a diameter between 30cm-120cm.

nasutitermes-exitiosus-habitat

Feeding and Diet

Apart from pine woods, they extract their cellulose from virtually any wooden structure. They like eucalypt gum.

Destructive Ability

They attack wooden bridges, fences and poles, furniture, and, in severe cases, which is not always rampant, they render the flooring of a building useless.

Weathered Wood Termite (Nasutitermes fumigatus)

nasutitermes-fumigatus

Identification

The soldiers of Nasutitermes fumigatus ranges from 3.25mm-3.75mm. They have a big head- pale orange in color- and a slender body.

Habitat

They nest on decayed wood in posts and fences, and on rotten timber. They have a smaller colony when compared with the two other common species of Nasutitermes in Australia: Nasutitermes exitiosus and Nasutitermes walker.

nasutitermes-fumigatus-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They extract cellulose from attacked woods

Destructive Ability

They attack woods that are having contact with the ground, flooring timbers due to poor ventilation, damaging them beyond repair. They attack moist and weathered decking on outside verandahs. However, they do not attack sound structural timbers.

Tree Termite (Nasutitermes walkeri)

nasutitermes-walkeri

Identification

Also know as Niggerhead termite, their soldiers have a round head and long mandibles. The Soldiers have yellowish-brown bodies. The soldiers range from 5mm-7mm in length

Habitat

They reside in coastal and mountain regions, bushland and woodland. They establish their colonies in the root crowns of trees at fire damage or decay sites.

The moment the colony is set up, the build arboreal nests in trees, maintain contact with the soil via parallel galleries running down to the tree trunk. They are found in Southeastern Queensland and Eastern NSW.

nasutitermes-walkeri-habitat

Feeding and Diet

Just like other termites, they extract cellulose from wood

Destructive Ability

They are destructive. They attack timbers having contact with the ground such as poles and fences. They rarely cause damages to the building and household woods. They may also attack damp wooden underfloors.

Magnetic Termite (Amitermes meridionalis)

amitermes-meridionalis

Identification

Apart from their name: Magnetic Termite, they are sometimes called Compass termite. Their soldiers range from 4mm-6mm in length with a long and curved mandibles. The mandibles have a single in-turned tooth.

Habitat

They are found in territories around Darwin and Northern part of Australia. They build compass molds (wedged-shaped molds or magnetic molds). A single mold can be as tall as 4m and 1m thick in the ground and up to 2.5m wide. Each colony is entirely isolated from each other.

amitermes-meridionalis-habitat

Feeding and Diet

They feed on vegetation and grass

Destructive Ability

They do not damage buildings. As a matter of fact, they’re of little economic benefit.

References

termite.com.au

termiteguys.com.au

wikipedia.org

termidor.com.au

ozanimals.com

amalpest.com.au

abis.com.au

 

 

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