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Drywood termite

Scientific Name
Cryptotermes domesticus
Scientific Author
(Isoptera: Kalotermitidae)
Native Australian Pest Species

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Diagnostic Images

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Diagnostic Images (14)
Diagnostic Notes

The soldier of this species is distinguished from other Australian species in this genus by the overhanging convex frontal flange, backwardly sloping frons and greatly reduced and flattened frontal horns.


Soldier body length 3.25-5.90mm, head in profile projecting forwards over bases of mandibles, and in dorsal view generally distinctly convex anteriorly; genal horns prominent, much larger than frontal horns; mandibles short, less than one half as long as head capsule, stout, strongly angulated and humped externally; anterior margin of pronotum deeply and widely angulated, 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: Pale yellow-brown with anterior portion of head paler than the rest; wings hyaline or faintly tinged with brown. Head noticeably longer than wide, faintly narrowed immediately anterior to and posterior to eyes; cranial sutures distinct; eyes relatively large and prominent; ocelli small and contiguous with eyes; antennae usually of 15-16 segments, rarely 17 and 18, number may differ on each side. Pronotum as wide as head; anterior margin thickened, broadly and shallowly concave to almost straight; sides scarcely narrowed to weakly sinuous posterior margin. Head and pronotum with few hairs. Forewing with Rs of 5-7 branches; M unsclerotised and joining Rs beyond middle of wing; Cu weak and unsclerotised. Arolium present.

Soldier: Very variable in size (3.25-5.90mm). Head capsule glabrous, very dark brown to black; in dorsal view, generally convex on sides and truncated roundly behind, clearly narrowed in front of eyes; in profile, strongly concave behind frontal flange (occasionally, only weakly so); frontal flange generally not raised (slightly raised in specimens from Darwin area), almost always with conspicuous median notch; flange, when viewed dorsally, distinctly convex and overhanging frons which slopes backwards below flange; frons flat and rugose and with numerous obvious pores; frontal horns reduced to flattened, rounded bosses; genal horns well developed, prominent and directed upwards from long axis of head at an angle of ~ 45°; mandibles very short, stout and strongly angled with reduced dentition and distinctly upswept from long axis of head; eyes distinct and slightly projecting; antennae of 9-15 segments, usually 12 or 13, number may differ on each side. Pronotum widely and angularly notched; anterior margin thickened and finely serrate, generally without conspicuous serrations but occasionally with a single small blunt projection towards anterolateral corners.

- Once thought to be exotic, C. domesticus is now regarded as a native species and has been collected from various locations across northern Australia including several islands off north-eastern Queensland and the Torres Strait. It is also known from Malaysia and Singapore in south-east Asia, several island groups in the western Pacific and has been introduced into Panama.

- Colonies are small.

- A minor pest, C. domesticus has been collected from structural timber, furniture, ornaments, house stumps, flooring, doors, internal partitioning, packing cases, dead trees, roots, logs, driftwood and dead branches on live Ceriops tagal (a mangrove).

The imago of C. domesticus appears very similar to other pale-brown species of
More Information
Specimen Contact
Museum Victoria
Walker, K.
06/10/2006 11:45 AEST
Last Updated
02/08/2012 14:15 AEST
Walker, K. (2006) Drywood termite (Cryptotermes domesticus) Updated on 8/2/2012 2:15:23 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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