West Indian drywood termite

Alert

The West Indian drywood termite is covered by a prevention and control program. West Indian drywood termite is restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014. If you find evidence of its activity, you must report it within 24 hours. Contact our Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

The West Indian drywood termite is an introduced species in Australia and the world's most destructive drywood termite. It has caused considerable economic damage to timber-in-service in:

  • Brisbane
  • Maryborough
  • Bundaberg
  • Rockhampton
  • Townsville.

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.
  • 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

  • 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.

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.

West Indian drywood termite attack is restricted to:

  • construction timber
  • furniture
  • rarely paper.

Monitoring and action

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

You may accidentally discover infestations by breaking into a gallery in floorboards or windowsills.

Currently, fumigation treatment bears no cost to the householder. You must accurately identify the species before treating.

If you find evidence of West Indian drywood termite activity, collect a sample of the frass or termite wings and, if possible, several soldiers. Contact our Customer Service Centre for advice.

Resources and research

Find out more about drywood termites in Queensland.

Read about the Prevention and control program for West Indian drywood termite to manage and reduce the pest in areas where it's detected, and prevent its spread in Queensland.

Distinguish between subterranean and drywood termites.

Contact

General enquiries 13 25 23