West Indian drywood termite

Alert

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. The termite is established in Maryborough and some Brisbane suburbs. It is also present in Bundaberg, Townsville and Rockhampton.

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

A 2-year transition strategy commenced on 1 July 2021 to assist the community, industry and local government to manage the pest.

Scientific name

Cryptotermes brevis

Similar species

  • Cryptotermes primus
  • Cryptotermes cynocephalus
  • Cryptotermes domesticus
  • Cryptotermes dudleyi

Description

  • Alates:
    • have a pair of hairless membranous wings about equal size
    • body is medium brown
    • about 11mm long with wings
    • wings detach on landing.
  • Soldiers:
    • have a white body
    • about 4–5mm long
    • dark head which is plug-like and deeply wrinkled
    • head is about 1.4mm wide.
  • Frass:
    • Recognise infestations by piles of frass (faecal pellets) associated with timber. These may conceal extensive termite galleries.
    • Frass
      • 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 diameter) but this may be sealed and difficult to see.
  • Rarely, collections of termite wings occur around windows or in the corners of rooms.

Distribution

Find details of detections of West Indian drywood termite in Queensland.

  • Cryptotermes primus
    • native drywood termite
    • relatively widespread and common in the sapwood of house stumps
  • Cryptotermes cynocephalus
    • introduced species
    • occurs around Cairns and further north
  • Cryptotermes domesticus 
    • introduced species
    • occurs around Cairns and further north.
    • causes substantial damage to houses, furniture posts and stumps
  • Cryptotermes dudleyi 
    • introduced species
    • is established on Thursday Island.

Hosts

Commonly found in:

  • pine, especially hoop pine
  • cabinet woods such as
    • maples (Flindersia species)
    • red cedar (Toona australis)
    • silky oak (Grevillea robusta).

Damage

Drywood termites cause damage to timber structures in coastal areas and adjacent tablelands in Queensland.

Drywood termites are capable of causing severe structural damage to houses, other wooden buildings, and items made from timber such as furniture.

Each of the 4 introduced species has a restricted distribution within this zone, but the native species, Cryptotermes primus, is more widespread. Other native species are of little economic importance.

The West Indian drywood termite's damage is restricted to construction timber and furniture. Paper is rarely targeted.

Monitoring and action

Knowing the habits of drywood termites as well as having regular building inspections are the best protection against these pests.

West Indian drywood termite is restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014. If you find evidence of its 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 termite wings. A high-resolution digital photograph of the termites, frass and their damage can be submitted as well, or instead of a physical sample.

Reporting the presence of West Indian drywood termite will enable the department to provide advice to building owners on managing the pest, including treatment measures and prevention of spread.

It is recommended that owners of infested buildings secure the services of a licenced pest control technician to undertake any treatments, as they would for other termite species.

Control

To protect your property against WIDT, you should know the habits of drywood termites and have regular building inspections.

If you wish to control your WIDT infestation, you need to contact a licenced pest management technician to treat it (at your own expense).

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 fumigation with site environment specified.

Find more information on treatment and control of WIDT.

Legal requirements

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

Any detections of West Indian drywood termite (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 it treated, then wrapped or sealed.

Resources and research

Contact

General enquiries 13 25 23