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Taxonomy terms

Heterotermes

Heterotermes termite soldier and workers

With their small to medium sized colonies, Heterotermes species are not generally consider a major threat to timber in services, although in the tropical north they can be the cause of significant damage.

  • Heterotermes ferox
  • Heterotermes paradoxus
  • Heterotermes vagus
  • Heterotermes ferox – Throughout all mainland states and territories except Northern Territory
  • Heterotermes paradoxus – Throughout all mainland states and territories
  • Heterotermes vagus – Northern coastal areas of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia

Heterotermes are not generally mound builders although some species do. They mostly nest underground inside or under logs, beside tree stumps and even in the outer layers of other termite species mounds.

  • Multi-site nester – meaning one colony can nest in multiple locations. They can readily form secondary nests with reproductives, in addition to the primary nest
  • Small to medium sized colonies that can number many thousands of termites

The soldiers look similar to Coptotermes in general size, colouring and mandible structure, however Heterotermes have elongated rectangular heads and don’t release a milky exudate when alarmed

Initially attracted to decayed timber e.g. hardwood fence post or verandah beam, they can continue onto solid timber members, especially softwood timber.

  • The galleries/leads are thin and vein-like
  • Damaged timber is usually full of mudding compared to other species where the internal galleries are open and clean in comparison

Not renowned as a major threat to timber in service however in the northern regions of Australia, especially Darwin, it is associated with significant damage.

All registered treatment options can achieve success (situation dependent)

Difficult to control because of the low numbers present and the narrow mud-filled galleries. If enough numbers can be found, both dusting & foaming are options for a Stage 1 treatment. Time and energy to find the entry point would be recommended. Baiting has produced mixed results but may be the only option if not enough termites are found.

Heterotermes have an annoying habit of tunnelling through plasterboard. The tunnels are narrow and vein-like and can be seen just below the surface.

Image credit: Auswise Pest Control