West Indian drywood termite


West Indian drywood termite (WIDT) is restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014. If you find evidence of its activity, you must report it within 24 hours to our Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23 or online.

WIDT (Cryptotermes brevis) is an introduced termite species in Australia and is established in Maryborough and many Brisbane suburbs. It is also present in Bundaberg, Townsville and Rockhampton.

The West Indian drywood termite (WIDT) is an introduced species in Australia. It is an extremely destructive pest of structural timber and is difficult to detect. The termite is established in Maryborough and multiple Brisbane suburbs. It is also present in Bundaberg, Townsville and Rockhampton.

WIDT was managed under legislation since its first detection in 1966. The final iteration of the prevention and control program commenced on 15 July 2019 and ceased on 15 January 2021.

A 2-year transition strategy commenced on 1 July 2021 to help the community, the pest control industry and local governments upskill so that they can better recognise, detect and treat the pest.

Scientific name

Cryptotermes brevis

Similar species

  • Native drywood termite (Cryptotermes primus)
  • Indo-Malaysian drywood termite (C. cynocephalus),
  • Domestic drywood termite (C. domesticus)


  • The WIDT does not require contact with the ground – it meets all its water needs from the moisture present in wood.
  • It forms small colonies (up to 1,000 individuals) compared to subterranean termites.
  • Colonies can exist in small pieces of timber (such as a picture frame) and can live for more than 10 years.
  • Infestations are difficult to detect, as colonies are typically located in concealed areas.
  • Colonies are composed of a king, a queen, alates (the winged form), immature reproductives and soldiers. The alates or soldiers are best used for species identification.

Alates (winged form):

  • are most likely to be seen, as they are the only colony members to leave the galleries
  • have medium-brown bodies
  • each have 1 pair of hairless membranous wings, around 9mm long
  • are about 11mm long (including wings)
  • fly between dusk and dawn and are attracted to lights
  • are weak flyers (slow and drifting, 60–200m per flight)
  • on landing, often detach their wings, which can collect around windows or in the corners of rooms.


  • have white bodies
  • are 4–6mm long
  • have dark heads that are plug-like and deeply wrinkled
  • have heads about 1.4mm wide.


  • can reveal the location of infestations and help with species identification
  • is hexagonal in cross-section with 1 rounded and 1 tapered end
  • from hoop pine is characteristically reddish brown, gradually turning black with age
  • is typically larger and more pointed than that produced by the native drywood termite, C. primus
  • is distinguishable from ant debris, which contains fibres or parts of dead insects.

Timber close to the frass pile will have a small hole (1mm in diameter), but this may be sealed and difficult to see.


WIDT is established in Maryborough and some Brisbane suburbs, and is also present in Bundaberg, Townsville and Rockhampton.

For more details, see detections of West Indian drywood termite in Queensland.


WIDT is commonly found in:

  • hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii)
  • pine and pine hybrids (Pinus species)
  • cabinet timbers such as
    • maples (Flindersia species)
    • red cedar (Toona ciliata)
    • silky oak (Grevillea robusta).

Spotted gum (Corymbia citriodora subspecies variegata) has some resistance to WIDT.


  • Drywood termites can cause severe structural damage to houses, other wooden buildings, and items made from timber such as furniture. The galleries and tunnels they create within wood weaken its structural integrity.
  • WIDT damage is restricted to construction timber and furniture. Paper is rarely targeted.


  • The queen lays eggs in galleries in timber, and they hatch within 6 months. During early colony formation, the king and queen feed the young and tend the nest.
  • The larvae become pseudergates (immature reproductives) and take over the role of excavating wood to feed themselves and the colony.
  • Some pseudergates become soldiers. The first soldiers appear in the second or third year of colony development and do not leave the nest.
  • Other pseudergates become nymphs then alates (winged termites), which first appear after 5 or more years of colony development.
  • After the colony has matured to this stage, a proportion of alates leave the colony over a period of several weeks each spring or autumn.
  • After a brief flight, alates quickly shed their wings and find a mate. The male follows the female as they inspect wood surfaces for defects to begin excavation for their nuptial chamber. Once the chamber is large enough to accommodate the pair, its opening is sealed and breeding begins.


  • To protect your property against WIDT, you should know the habits of drywood termites and have regular building inspections.
  • If you find evidence of WIDT activity, collect a sample and report it within 24 hours to our Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23. A physical sample may include several soldier bodies, heads, frass or wings. High-resolution digital photographs of the termites, frass and their damage can be submitted as well as or instead of a physical sample.
  • To treat a WIDT infestation, contact a licenced pest management technician. While structural fumigation is still the most effective treatment, spot treatment may be possible in certain situations.
  • Structural fumigation (commonly known as 'tenting' or 'tent fumigation') of buildings is a specialist service and not all pest management technicians are authorised to conduct this activity.
  • Ask your pest technician to provide evidence of their pest control licence, as required under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019. This licence must have endorsements for timber pests and, if required, fumigation with site environment specified.

Legal requirements

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation to minimise the spread of pests and diseases.

Any detections of WIDT infestations must be reported to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23 within 24 hours.

You must not move or dispose of WIDT-infested houses, furniture or timber products without having them treated, then wrapped or sealed.

Resources and research