How many termite species are there in Australia?
Of around three hundred species of termite in Australia, only about twenty are of economic importance in there own regions.
There are 3 main groups of structural timber destroying termites in Australia:
Subterranean, Drywood, & Dampwood termites
Dampwood termites belong to the family Kalotermitidae. These termites live inside the wood they eat and are rarely encountered in domestic homes.
Subterranean termites (families Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae) are much more common in urban areas, usually live in the soil & randomly forage for wood to eat.
Below are pictures of termite soldier caste heads of the important species that attack building structures in Australia
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Differences between ants and termites
Picture of Cryptotermes brevis Termites
Cryptotermes brevis soldier caste
Soldier body length: From 5mm to 8mm
The West Indian Drywood termite has a rough undulating head with short broad mandibles. The head is dark in colour. They do not form large single colonies but build separate smaller nests over a wide area. Evidence of termite activity is small piles of frass. The termite frass is small brown gritty pellets (smaller than a pinhead). The debris is different to ant debris as it does not contain fibres or parts of dead insects.
in Australia has been found in buildings in cities and provincial towns
forms multiple nests in heartwood and softwood of timber. Also attacks dry timber in buildings.
found throughout the world. Introduced to Australia where it has been found in Queensland including Brisbane, Rockhampton and Maryborough. Also recorded in Sydney and Canberra.
West Indian Drywood termite
West Indian Drywood termite is one of the most destructive pest species of termites in the world. It is sometimes not detected until serious damage has takes place in buildings. Many colonies can be present in same building and termite fumigation of the whole building may be the only means of control (e.g. by wrapping the entire building in plastic and fumigating with methyl bromide). West Indian drywood termite attack is restricted to construction timber, furniture and occasionally paper products
There are 4 different castes of adults for Cryptotermes brevis termites
- Queen & King