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General Information

Scientific name: Microtermes spp., Coptotermes spp., Odontotermes spp., Ancistrotermes spp.Heterotermes spp., Amitermes spp.
Isoptera:Rhinotermitidae, Termitidae, Mastotermitidae, Kalotermitidae


Corn, cotton, sugarcane, upland rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, soybean, coffee, cassava, tea, cocoa, rubber, oil palm, coconut, kapok, some vegetables, some fruit trees like; mango, papaya, durian, mangosteen, rambutan, citrus, nutmeg, etc. (CABI Compendium, 2000; 2004: UNEP/FAO, 2000).




Initial damage is wilting when the termites attack the roots of seedling and/or older plant. A plant dies when they tunnel inside the taproot, stem, and branches because they disrupt the distribution and movement of nutrients in the plant's vascular system.

In fruit trees and other woody plants, their entry point is a small hole or crack or a dead wood attacked by insect pests or a pruning wound.

Termites primarily feed on wood. But other species collects green grasses and seeds and stored these in their granaries inside their nest as food reserves for the nymphs.


In a new established colony, the queen lays about five eggs. When these hatched, the larvae are fed by the gastric juices of the queen. As the colony expands, the eggs are laid singly or in double rows of 16 - 24 eggs glued together by a gelatinous secretion, depending on the species. Incubation takes from 24 - 90 days depending on the climatic conditions (CABI Compendium, 2000; 2004).

The larva undergoes seven nymphal instars but this again varies according to their species and the environmental conditions. These are fed and cared for by the workers (Ramel, 2004). They mature over a period of 2 - 6 months, depending on their species (Olkowski; et. al, 1991: p. 432).

Adult termites are small, 4 -15 mm long, and vary in color from white to tan and even black, depending on the species (UNEP/FAO, 2000).

Termites can be identified according to the caste they belong. There are four castes in the colony namely; the queen, king, soldier, and the worker. The queen is the largest termite in the colony. Her role is to lay eggs to increase the size of the colony. She can lay a thousand of eggs in a day. The king is always beside her ready to mate her. The soldiers have large onion-like heads and powerful jaws. They emit liquid when disturbed. The workers are the majority in a termite colony. They gather the food, feed the queen, take care of and feed the larvae, as well as build and maintain the nest. Unlike ants, the male and female termites can be workers. The nymphs with fully developed wings will be the future kings or queens (UNEP/FAO, 2000).

To distinguish a termite from an ant, the former has a straight antenna, broad waist and if wings are present, these are of the same sizes and have many veins (Olkowski; et. al, 1991: p. 433).
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