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Subterranean Termite (Schedorhinotermes sp.)

Subterranean Termite (Schedorhinotermes intermedius)

Subterranean Termite - Schedorhinotermes intermedius

Structure, Appearance and Characteristics

Soldier:

  • Has mandibles with teeth on inner faces.
  • Basal 1/3 of mandibles not evenly sawlike.
  • Labrum grooved centrally.
  • Fontanelle present.
  • Tarsi - 4 segments.
  • Abdominal cerci - 2 segments.
  • Pronotum flat, no anterior lobes.

There are two types of soldiers, Major and Minor.

Major Soldier:

  • 5.0-7.5mm in length.
  • Bulbous head.

Minor Soldier:

  • 3.0-5.0mm in length (approx 2/3 length of major soldier).
  • Narrower head, mandibles more slender.
  • Labrums extend almost to the tip of the mandibles.

Life Cycle

Gradual / Incomplete metamorphosis (egg – nymph – adult). Queen lays eggs singly. A nymph after hatching passes through 4-7 moults before becoming a mature worker, soldier or winged reproductive. Nymphs resemble the adults or mature castes. Nymphal stage lasts approx 2-3 months, depending of food and climactic conditions. No pupal stage exists. Soldiers and Workers live 1-2 years. Kings and Queens live longer (often over 20 years. Some records of original queen living 50 years).

There are 4 different castes of adults:

  1. Queen & King:
    The queen and king are the original winged reproductives (alates). When a new colony is formed the pair must feed and care for the young until there are sufficient soldiers and workers to take over the duties of the colony.
  2. Worker:
    The most abundant caste in the colony, performing all the tasks in the colony except defence and reproduction. It is this caste that does the damage to timber. Males and females whose sexual organs and characteristics have not developed. Wingless, blind and sterile. Thin cuticle which makes them susceptible to desiccation. Will only leave the security of underground tunnels and shelter tubes when humidity is high or in the search for new food sources.
  3. Soldier:
    Most distinctive caste and the easiest caste from which to identify a species. The role of this caste is to defend the colony. Males and females whose sexual organs and characteristics have not developed. Like workers, they are susceptible to desiccation and seldom leave the colony or shelter tubes. The fontanelle is used to discharge a secretion associated with defence, since it is a repellent to ants and other enemies of termites. This species and its subspecies have two classes of soldiers, the major and minor soldiers. In a new colony, minor soldiers appear first. As the colony matures, the number of major soldiers increase.
  4. Reproductive:
    The future kings and queens. Having compound eyes, they are darker in colour and have a more dense cuticle than workers and soldiers. They are often larger. When fully winged (alates) a colonising flight will occur when humidity and temperature conditions outside approximate the conditions inside the colony, normally in summer months.

Habitat

Mostly nests in stumps and in the root crown of living, dead and debilitated trees. Also make their nests in timber buried in the ground, under houses, under filled-in patios and in the ground immediately under fireplaces. Found in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Food

Workers feed on wood, wood products, leaves, bark and grass. The cellulose of wood is digested by intestinal protozoa. The other castes are fed by the workers from oral and anal excretions. Protein is also required in the diet, which is usually supplied by fungi that decay wood and vegetation.

Pest Status

A serious pest of timber in service. Attack on wood in buildings can approach intensities of Coptotermes acinaciformis. The workers are the caste that cause the damage.

Control

Refer to our Termite Section.

Our licensed technicians can assist you with a flexible, tailored solution to meet your needs and prevent these pests from becoming a problem in your home or workplace. Please contact us to see how we can help you maintain an environment free of these and other pests.

 


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