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Indo-Malaysian drywood termite

Scientific Name
Cryptotermes cynocephalus
Scientific Author
(Isoptera: Kalotermitidae)
Exotic Species Occurrence in Australia

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Diagnostic Images

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Diagnostic Images (11)
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Diagnostic Notes

This species is readily distinguished from other Australian species by: small size of imagos and soldier; head width does not exceed 1mm; elevated and strongly V-shaped frontal flange on soldier’s head.


Small species. Soldier body length 2.5 – 3.7mm, head width rarely exceeding 1mm; frontal flange distinct, elevated and deeply V-shaped; genal horns clearly more slender than frontal horns; head, in profile, noticeably concave behind frontal flange; mandibles short (less than one half as long as head capsule), broad, thin, strongly angled, and with poorly defined teeth; pronotum broadly and moderately deeply angulated anteriorly, margin finely and irregularly serrate.


Gay, F. and Watson, T. (1982). The Genus Cryptotermes in Australia (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae). Australian Journal of Zoology Supp. Series 88: 1-64.


Imago: The smallest of all Cryptotermes species in Australia. Generally mid-brown, abdominal tergites darker than head and pronotum, abdominal sternites pale; legs creamy white. Head parallel-sided, truncately rounded behind, cranial sutures distinct; eyes relatively large and prominent; ocelli elongate/oval and contiguous with eyes; antennae of 12-15 segments (usually 14), may have different number of segments on each side. Pronotum slightly narrower than head, moderately concave in front, sides rounded and widest in posterior third, posterior margin weakly bi-convex. Wings hyaline but tinged with brown; Rs of forewing with 4-5 branches; M and Cu unsclerotised, former joining Rs before middle of wing. Arolium present.

Soldier: Small. Head is almost black anteriorly but orange/red posteriorly; when viewed dorsally, it appears constricted about the level of the eyes; widest at frontal ridge and posterior third; a clear depression in vertex behind frontal ridge, when viewed in profile, the head is strongly concave in the middle; frontal ridge complete and projecting well beyond the frons both dorsally and laterally, deeply V-shaped, with or without small median notch, rugose; frons weakly sculptured and falling almost vertically to the clypeus; frontal horns short, stout and bluntly rounded; genal horns narrow, tapering and with rounded ends; mandibles short, stout, strongly angulate and with external hump in basal half; dentition weak; eyes usually small and indistinct; antennae of 8-12 segments (usually 11), number may differ on each side. Pronotum with anterior margin thickened and finely serrate, broadly and deeply notched or V-shaped; posterior margin almost straight.

- Apparently native to coastal north-east Queensland, C. cynocephalus also occurs in Papua New Guinea.

- Colonies are small (~ 200 specimens).

- Considered a minor pest, this small termite has been recorded feeding on structural timber, furniture, dead trees and fallen logs.

C. cynocephalus may be distinguished by its small size – the head width of imagoes and soldiers does not exceed one millimetre – and by the elevated and strongly V-shaped frontal flange of the soldier’s head.

More Information
Specimen Contact
Museum Victoria
Walker, K.
06/10/2006 10:36 AEST
Last Updated
02/08/2012 14:12 AEST
Walker, K. (2006) Indo-Malaysian drywood termite (Cryptotermes cynocephalus) Updated on 8/2/2012 2:12:34 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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Free for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License