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Termites

Subterranean termite soldier with pear-shaped head and smooth mandibles
© Queensland Government
Subterranean termite soldier with rectangular head and serrated mandibles
© Queensland Government

Termites that cause damage to houses, other buildings, furniture or other timber-in-service are either subterranean termites or drywood termites.

Scientific name

Cryptotermes primus
Cryptotermes brevis
Cryptotermes cynocepalus, C. domesticus and C. dudleyi
Coptotermes acinaciformis
Schedorhinotermes spp.
Mastotermes darwiniensis

Other names

Description

Subterranean termites

  • Usually live in the ground and need contact with the soil or some constant source of moisture.
  • Move above-ground in enclosed mud galleries to infest houses and other buildings.

Drywood termites

  • Do not require contact with the ground or soil moisture.
  • Are capable of infesting a single piece of timber.
  • Only require the moisture present in the timber, as the name 'drywood' suggests.
  • Can infest a building through flight or the introduction of infested timber or furniture.
  • Colonies are rather small (a few hundred individuals) when compared to subterranean termites.

Distribution

Subterranean termites

  • Active throughout Queensland:
    • Coptotermes acinaciformis
    • Schedorhinotermes spp.
  • Confined to tropical northern Queensland and other areas of northern Australia:
    • Mastotermes darwiniensis.

Drywood termites

  • Active throughout Queensland:
  • Active in northern Queensland:
    • Cryptotermes cynocepalus
    • Cryptotermes domesticus
    • Cryptotermes dudleyi.

Hosts

All types of timber but especially pine timbers.

Damage

Subterranean termites

About 10 native species damage timber-in-service in Queensland with C. acinaciformis the most economically important and widespread, and M. darwiniensis the most destructive.

The most damaging species are:

  • Coptotermes acinaciformis
  • Schedorhinotermes spp.
  • Mastotermes darwiniensis.

Drywood termites

The introduced West Indian drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis, is the world's most destructive drywood termite. It has caused considerable economic damage to timber homes in Queensland.

Other introduced species of drywood termite causing varying amounts of damage are:

  • Cryptotermes cynocepalus
  • Cryptotermes domesticus
  • Cryptotermes dudleyi.

Biology

Read about subterranean termites in Queensland covering:

  • colonies
  • nests
  • feeding habits and behaviour
  • natural enemies
  • distribution
  • importance.

Monitoring and action

  • How to recognise West Indian drywood termite including timber at risk and what to do.
  • Learn about drywood termites in Queensland including:
    • biology and damage
    • native and introduced termites that damage timber in houses and other buildings
    • inspections
    • prevention
    • treating an active infestation.

Contact

General enquiries 13 25 23