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Taxonomy terms

TERMITES IN ACTION – JANUARY 2019

Professional Pest Manager magazine is running its first readers’ competition! Can you identify the mounds of these Australian termite species?  (Photo credit: Roy Funch)

Researchers have recently discovered that the vast termite mounds that cover the caatinga forests in northeastern Brazil (main picture above) are up to 4000 years old. These mounds, which are actually the excavations from the extensive network of underground tunnels, can be seen from space. Very little is known about this species (Syntermes dirus) as the queen chamber has never been found.

Many species of subterranean termites do not build visible mounds, but for those that do, they can be a useful identifying feature.

Can you identify the mounds of these Australian termite species?

Termite species 1: In many ways these mounds (Figure 1, below) are equally impressive to those of Syntermes dirus. Seeing them can be a religious experience.

Figure 1: Up to eight metres high, these termites are found in NT, WA and QLD

Termite species 2: These termites are also found on the NT tourist routes.

Figure 2: Found in the NT and northern QLD, these mounds are aligned in a north/south direction

Termite species 3: Also in the NT, these mounds belong to the most damaging species Australia-wide.

Figure 3: Is this a trick question? This species doesn’t always build mounds

Termite species 4: Related to termite species 3, this species is found on the east coast from Rockhampton down to eastern and central Victoria.

Figure 4: This mound was found in the Southern Highlands of NSW

Termite species 5: You can find these low dome-shaped mounds in the eucalypt forests across NSW, ACT and VIC, as well as southern QLD.

Figure 5: A nest in the Blue Mountains, just o a highway exit

Termite species 6: An arboreal nest found on a walk near Byron Bay, NSW.

Figure 6: Arboreal nests are still connected to the ground

Ready for the answers? Read them in our Australian Termite Mounds article.