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Drywood termite

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

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Diagnostic Images

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Diagnostic Images (11)
Diagnostic Notes

Soldier body length 4.15-6.45mm, head width exceeding 1mm; frontal flange overhanging frons only at sides of head; frontal horns well developed, blunt, often slightly incurved, genal horns short and blunt, much smaller than frontal horns and not visible in dorsal view; mandibles only moderately angulate and humped, left mandible seldom less than 0.85mm, range 0.80-1.05mm, distal one half of mandible stout, weakly tapered;  pronotum with 4-6 coarse serrations on anterior margin.


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, wings faintly tinged with yellow-brown. Eyes sub-triangular; ocelli contiguous with eyes; antennae of 14-18 segments, usually 16, number may differ on each side. Arolium present.

Soldier: Very variable in size (4.15-6.45mm). Head short, wide and deep, with straight sides, almost flat when viewed in profile; frontal flange slightly concave, median notch varies from very shallow to quite distinct; weakly elevated and overhanging frons; flange and frons moderately rugose; when viewed frontally, flange is raised to a projecting ridge either side of the mid-line but appears flat or very slightly depressed in middle 1/3 of the head; frons falling almost vertically to clypeus; frontal horns well developed, blunt, often slightly incurved; genal horns short and blunt, much smaller than frontal horns and not visible from dorsal view; mandibles strongly bent at basal 1/3, teeth well developed; eyes usually distinct, slightly prominent and projecting from sides of head; antennae of 10-16 segments, usually 12-14, number may differ on each side. Pronotum with 4-6 coarse serrations on anterior margin.

- Native to Australia, this species has been found at a number of locations from coastal and sub-coastal north Queensland to coastal northern New South Wales. It has also been collected from Lord Howe Island to where it has almost certainly been introduced.

- Colonies are small.

- This species is a minor-moderate pest of structural timber, house stumps and utility poles. It has also been found in dead trees, branches, logs, root crowns, sapwood and heartwood of, inter alia, Acacia spp., Callitris sp., poinciana, tamarind, Tristania spp. Macadamia ternifolia, Mangifera indica, Eucalyptus alba, E. maculata, E. paniculata, E. tesselaris, Eucalyptus spp (other), Avicennia spp, Rhizophora spp. and several unidentified trees and shrubs.

Although they may be readily determined by features listed in the dichotomous keys, the imago and soldier of C. primus closely resemble these castes of several native species and may be difficult to differentiate from these without actual reference specimens. The imago, which is very similar to that of other pale-coloured species, both endemic and introduced, most closely resembles that of C. riverinae in having wings faintly tinged with brown. It may be distinguished from that species by its relatively shorter pronotum and by the absence of conspicuous pale markings on the pronotum and frons. The soldier of C. primus shows many similarities to those of hilli, nitidus, riverinae and tropicalis. The characters which separate it from these are discussed under the individual species concerned.

More Information
Specimen Contact
Museum Victoria
Walker, K.
11/10/2006 12:48 AEST
Last Updated
02/08/2012 14:36 AEST
Walker, K. (2006) Drywood termite (Cryptotermes primus) Updated on 8/2/2012 2:36:02 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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Free for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License