Identifying Termite Species

Subterranean Termite Species

Termite identification based on:

  • Alate & soldier characteristics;
  • Feeding & nesting habits; and
  • Distribution

Soldiers and Identification

  • Useful for quick identification
  • Variation in size and morphology within a species
  • Soldiers are the final moult in the worker or wingless line for all termites
  • The worker line can have many moults e.g. up to 11 in Coptotermes spp.
  • Therefore, soldiers may differ in size within and between colonies of a species.
  • Size of soldiers and workers changes with colony age
  • Young colonies have smaller termites
  • Complicates identification
  • Once id has been confirmed, this may help to estimate the age and the likely size of the colony.


Variation In Termite Size


Colony age (~size)

  • If infestation has small soldiers and workers, then colony probably young. Young colonies generally smaller = fewer mouths to feed, fewer feeding sites. Slower consumption rates?
  • If large termites, then colony is likely to be old. If old, then colony usually larger...
  • Also if old colony, then why infest property now? Change in other food sources?
  • Trees or other timber removed, neighbouring properties treated?
  • History of property and environs important

Identifying Termite Species