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West Indian drywood termite

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

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Diagnostic Images

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Diagnostic Images (11)
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Diagnostic Notes

Soldier body length: 4.2-5.95mm

Soldier can be separated from other species of Cryptotermes  in Australia by its constricted and strongly rugose head; short, broad and noticeably angled mandibles; and squat, rounded frontal and genal horns.

Imago can be separated from other species of Cryptotermes  in Australia by the complete absense of an arolium between the tarsal claws.

Head strongly phragmotic; noticeably constricted behind the antennal sockets (viewed from above); at least anterior one half of head strongly rugose dorsally and laterally; upper anterior margin of head deeply and angularly V-shaped with conspicuously median depression in anterior one half of dorsal surface; frons deeply excavated, falling steeply to base of mandible; genal horns and frontal horns short and blunt, the latter broader based and more prominent in dorsal view; mandibles less than one half as long as head capsule, broad, strongly angulated with poorly developed teeth; anterior margin of pronotum deeply but narrowly concave, finely and irregular serrate.

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


Imago: Generally pale brown, wings pale brown with Sc, R and Rs veins much darker; pronotum slightly darker than head; tibiae much darker than other segments of legs. Head with parallel sides, truncately rounded behind, cranial sutures distinct; eyes oval; ocelli elongate-oval, very close to or contiguous with eyes; antennae of 14-18 segments (usually 15 or 16). Pronotum a little more than twice as wide as long; anterior margin shallowly concave and thickened, lateral margins convex and widest just posterior to middle, posterior margin slightly concave or straight. Forewing with only Sc, R and Rs sclerotised; Rs with 5-7 branches; M joining radial sector clearly distal to middle of wing. Arolium absent.

Soldier: Head with dorsal and lateral surfaces of anterior 2/3 rugose and very undulating; has rounded front prominences and is strongly constricted behind the front lobes at about the level of the antennal sockets; widest at posterior 1/3 and conspicuously depressed in mid-vertex; frontal flange prominent and produced forward, broadly and shallowly V-shaped with median notch and recurved above antennal bases; frons falling almost vertically; frontal and genal horns stubby and rounded; mandibles short, very broad and strongly angled, basal half externally rugose; antennae of 10-14 segments, usually 11-13, number may differ on each side. Pronotum usually narrower than head, width ~ twice length, anterior margin upturned and thickened, widely and obtusely angled or widely and deeply concave, antero-lateral margins finely but unevenly serrate; sides convex, posterior margin almost straight. Head and pronotum with sparse pale-golden hairs.

- Exotic. A native of northern South America, C. brevis (known as the West Indian Drywood Termite) is now spread throughout the world. It was first recorded in Australia in the 1960s and is established in Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg and Rockhampton; it has also been found in Sydney and Canberra.

- Colonies may last for more than 10 years. They are small – usually no more than 1,000 specimens - but a large number of these colonies may co-exist adjacent to one another in the same building or in the same piece of timber: 20 colonies have been recorded from a single wooden door.

- One of the world’s most destructive termites, its presence is usually not noticed until the timber it is infesting collapses. In Australia, it attacks structural timber only - furniture, house stumps etc. – but has not been recorded from dead trees or shrubs. The species has only relatively recently been found attacking such resources – in northern South America.

This species may be distinguished from other Australian _Cryptot
More Information
Specimen Contact
Museum Victoria
Walker, K.
05/10/2006 02:45 AEST
Last Updated
29/11/2021 16:30 AEST
Walker, K. (2006) West Indian drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis) Updated on 11/29/2021 4:30:14 PM Available online: PaDIL -
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